Legislation allowing individuals to wager on horse races without being present at the track—primarily through Internet wagering—recently passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 65-43, with bipartisan support.
Referred to as advanced deposit wagering, third-party facilitators offering these services would be allowed to contract with a licensed Michigan track owner to accept off-track wagers.
Sponsored by Rep. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway), House Bill 4611 is supported by the Michigan Farm Bureau (MFB), Michigan Gaming Control Board, Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association, Hazel Park Raceway, Northville Downs and Michigan Horseman's Benevolent and Protection Association.
MFB Legislative Counsel Rebecca Park said MFB’s 13-member Equine Advisory Committee played a key role in recommending the organization support the bill that aligns with their long-term work to ensure the horse racing industry’s viability.
“To further clarify our members’ equine industry policy, the Equine Advisory Committee submitted a policy recommendation to the MFB Board of Directors,” said MFB legislative counsel Rebecca Park. “The approved language allows us to support legislative or regulatory changes that helps strengthen Michigan’s horse racing industry, including but not limited, to advanced deposit wagering, account wagering and other electronic advancements.”
In a May 17 interview with MIRS News, Rep. Lauwers said more than 20 states already allow off-track wagering over cell phones, and claims that about half of all horse race bets nationally are being placed through this technology.
Prior to its passage, an amendment was included to provide a percentage of the amount wagered to the gambling addiction fund.
HB 4611 passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on June 8 and awaits a vote by the full Senate. A Senate version of this bill, SB 382 sponsored by Dave Robertson (R-Grand Blanc) has also passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate.
All three Detroit casinos were opposed to the legislation, as was the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.