The Michigan Gaming Control Board (“MGCB”) issued an order May 5, 2020 that will permit horse racing fans to place wagers online and via their mobile devices. The order can be found here. While Michigan had passed legislation late in 2019 permitting such wagers by amending the Horse Racing Law of 1995, the MGCB had not promulgated its regulations governing and permitting such transactions until Tuesday. The amendments permitted race meeting licensees to enter into contracts with third parties to facilitate the wagering, commonly known as advanced deposit wagering or ADW. 

Under the terms and conditions of the order, a third party facilitator, prior to offering ADW, must first agree to a joint contract with both all race meeting licensees and certified horseman’s organizations in Michigan. Once a contract is entered, the third party facilitator must apply for a license, provide a plan for operation, obtain preapproval from the MGCB of any plan operation changes, pay a licensing fee of $1,000 and an annual $500 renewal fee, and to only offer pari-mutuel wagers that are permitted under Michigan law. All operators are also required to maintain confidentiality of customer information and are prohibited from sharing or selling any confidential information.

MGCB executive director Rick Kalm indicated: “The order should enable the state’s horse racing industry to gain new followers through ADW and maintain protection for citizens who wish to place wagers on live and simulcast pari-mutuel racing in Michigan using their mobile phones. Before ADW can go live in Michigan, the race meeting licensee and the certified horsemen’s organizations also must agree to a contract with a provider.”

Currently, Michigan has one race meeting licensee at Northville Downs that offers thoroughbred racing, along with live and simulcasted pari-mutuel wagering. Northville Downs remains closed through May 28 pursuant to Michigan’s current stay at home order due to the COVID-19 emergency.


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