Senate panel approves horse racing package

Bills pass with unanimous support ahead of Preakness Stakes

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday voted unanimously to approve a four-bill package aimed at bringing back a once $1.2 billion horse racing industry to the state of Michigan.

One of the bills in the four-bill package, Senate Bill 396, sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Lauwers, would allow for Historical Horse Racing (HHR), an electronic gaming system that uses pari-mutuel wagering on randomly selected outcomes of previously run live horse races.

“The horse racing industry in Michigan has been struggling for years, and this is an issue I’ve been working on since I came to Lansing,” said Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “These bills are about giving the industry the tools they need to help them generate revenue and put Michigan horse racing on a level playing field with surrounding states, and today’s action puts us one step closer to that goal.”

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 thatreceive 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.

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

“Since 2007, Michigan has gone from six horse racing tracks running both thoroughbred and standardbred races, to one track running only standardbred races,” Lauwers said. “These bills will help give the horse racing industry a chance to be successful and rebuild what was once a $1.2 billion industry in our state.

“I look forward to getting this legislation passed and bringing the horse racing industry back to Michigan.”

SBs 396 – 399 now move to the Senate floor for consideration.

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