Horse racing package has first hearing ahead of 147th running of Kentucky Derby

Bipartisan bills to bring additional funding for horse racing, industry

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Lauwers testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday on a four-bill package aimed at bringing back a once $1.2 billion horse racing industry.

Senate Bill 396, sponsored by Lauwers, allows for Historical Horse Racing (HHR), an electronic gaming system that uses pari-mutuel wagering on randomly selected outcomes of previously run live horse races.

“What was once a billion-dollar industry is now hanging by a thread,” said Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “This package can bring back an industry and generate revenue to put Michigan horse racing on a level playing field with surrounding states.”

Other bills in the bipartisan package include:
SB 397, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, would amend the lottery act to include video lottery terminals with lottery games approved prior to 2004 as an approved electronic lottery game. These could only be located at licensed horse racing tracks;
SB 398, sponsored by Sen. Curtis Hertel, would amend the Michigan Gaming Control Act to allow casinos that receive a third-party facilitator license through the horse racing act to simulcast horse races in their building; and
SB 399, sponsored by Ananich, would provide sentencing guidelines for violations of SB 397.

Since 2007, Michigan has gone from six horse racing tracks, running both thoroughbred and standardbred races, to one track running only standardbred.

With additional funding source options, Michigan can attract new investment in tracks and bring Michigan horseman and breeders back home with higher purses and thoroughbred racing.

“I couldn’t agree more with what Minority Leader Ananich said in committee — we need to give the horse racing industry a chance and give them the tools they need to be successful,” Lauwers said. “I’ve discussed the ability to offer simulcast pari-mutuel wagering within a casino for years, and Sen. Hertel’s bill in this package is an olive branch; they aren’t out to compete with casinos.”

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hear further testimony on SBs 396 – 399 in the coming weeks.