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Michigan bill would allow Instant Racing, ADWs

May 07, 2012

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A bill re-working the Michigan Racing Act that was last updated 17 years ago is now being discussed in both chambers of the state legislature. Besides the tweaking of current regulations, there is also in place the mechanism to permit advanced deposit wagering (ADW) as well as Instant Racing machines which allow bettors to wager on randomly-selected previously-run races.

"We hope to get additional pari-mutuel products, which would include ADW and Instant Racing,” said Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association president Brett Boyd of the movement called "Operation Save Michigan Horse Racing.”

Boyd said four recent informational gatherings attracted 600 horsemen, and on Kentucky Derby Day more than 4,000 postcards were signed by fans at Hazel Park, Northville Downs and Sports Creek Raceway that will be sent to state legislators. Boyd himself wrote a letter that was sent to Gov. Rick Snyder and the entire legislative body, which can be read by clicking here.

"Our goal is to generate e-mails and handwritten letters and telephone calls to every state representative, senator and the governor,” said Boyd. "We've continued to have fantastic results getting those letters out. We generated over 4,000 postcards from the fans that will be sent to the legislators showing their support for their business.”

Boyd said Instant Racing will generate a 15-percent commission to the racing industry. Boyd said 10 percent will go to overnight purses, two percent will go to 2, 3 and 4-year-old programs, and one percent will go each to capital improvements at the tracks, marketing of live racing, and breeders' awards.

"As long as there is a better understanding amongst the legislators of what we are looking for, I think we have a chance to get it done,” said Boyd, noting the legislature has until the end of May to bring the bill to a vote.

"We've had a tremendous response, but we need to keep it up,” he added. "The casinos (in downtown Detroit) are spending a ton of money through their lobbyists and other avenues to communicate with the legislators against the bill. We have to keep our foot firmly on the gas and keep communicating with the legislators as there is definitely some opposition out there that is doing the same thing.”

According to numbers released by the House Fiscal Agency, wagering on horse racing, at the Detroit casinos, at the Indian casinos and on the lottery totaled $3.8 billion in 2011, an increase of $1 billion from 2002. However, betting on racing declined from $83 million to $34 million during that time period. Wagering at the Detroit casinos increased from $1 billion to $1.4 billion, wagering at the Indian casinos increased from $825 million to $1.4 billion, and wagering on the lottery rose from $793 million to $995 million.

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