Michigan Executive Order Lays out Rules for Online Race Wagering

  • Michigan Gaming Control Board’s executive director issued the order on Tuesday
  • Bettors will not have to go to the state’s only racetrack to wager on horse races
  • Northville Downs will have to partner with a third-party facilitator
horse coming first on hippodrome racetrack
Richard Kalm’s executive order has opened the gate for online race wagering in Michigan. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A new option for online bettors

Horse racing fans in Michigan will have the option to wager on races online following an executive order issued on Tuesday by Richard Kalm, executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).

The order means that bettors will no longer have to be present at the only racetrack in the state, Northville Downs, to place a wager on a horse race.

prospective providers will have to apply for a license with a detailed plan of its proposed operations

The racetrack will not be able to directly provide online wagering. This would have to be done through a third-party provider. All prospective providers will have to apply for a license with a detailed plan of its proposed operations.

Each application will cost $1,000 and there will be a renewal fee of $500. This will help cover all costs associated with the gaming board conducting its various investigations into the background of each applicant.

Before online wagers can be placed on horse races in the state, the provider will also need to enter a contract agreement with the two certified horsemen organizations and the racetrack. 

Wagering at Northville Downs

Prior to this order being issued by the gaming board, simulcast and live racing wagers could only be placed on-track at Northville Downs. This meant that people could place wagers on races taking place around the country only once they were at the track. 

In 2019, the track handled $60.5m in simulcast race wagers and just $2.1m from live wagering. About $2.1m in tax revenue went to the state from simulcast wagering in 2019.

Kalm believes that this move to online wagering will help the horse racing industry gain new followers. Northville Downs remains closed until at least May 28 as a result of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s “stay at home” order. This means that no live or simulcast race betting will be taking place at the facility until it reopens. 

Gambling expansion in Michigan

It was in December 2019 that an amendment was made to the state’s Horse Racing Law of 1995. This allowed race meeting licensees to use third-party companies to facilitate simulcast or live racing wagering through computers or mobile devices. 

Sports betting and daily fantasy sports were also legalized in December 2019 after the governor signed a number of bills. The first of these sportsbooks opened in March, at a time when sporting events across the world were being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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