HomeResourcesGovernment OfficialsNewslettersVolume 18Issue 37Horse Racing Bill Passes Michigan Senate

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Horse Racing Bill Passes Michigan Senate

On Friday, December 14, 2012, the Michigan Senate passed House Bill 5546 (“HB 5546”), a bill that would revise several aspects of the state’s horse racing laws and permit the operation of electronic machines at tracks utilizing historic races, by a vote of 24-11. The vote followed the bill’s passage in the House, which occurred on November 8, 2012. HB 5546 will now be ordered to be sent to the Governor’s office for consideration.

The bill, introduced this April by Rep. Kevin Daley (R– Lum), seeks to amend the Horse Racing Law of 1995 and to expand the type and form of wagering that occurs at tracks to allow wagering on historic races via electronic machines. If the bill is approved, there is still a substantial legal question with regard to whether a statewide and local voter approval is requiredto comply with the Article IV, Sec. 41 of the Michigan Constitution (as amended by Proposal 1 of 2004).

Article IV, Section 41, in pertinent part, provides:

“...No law enacted after January 1, 2004, that authorizes any form of gambling shall be effective, nor after January 1, 2004, shall any new state lottery games utilizing table games or player operated mechanical or electronic devices be established, without the approval of a majority of electors voting in a statewide general election and a majority of electors voting in the township or city where gambling will take place. This section shall not apply to gambling in up to three casinos in the City of Detroit or to Indian tribal gaming.”

The original draft of the bill included language that would have allowed for wagering on any form of pari-mutuel games or activities through electronic machines. An amendment was added in November stating that all electronic wagering allowed under the bill would be “limited to wagering on the results of horse races, but include all technology and innovations related to horse races and wagering on the results of horse races that may exist now or in the future.”


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