The roots of legalized pari-mutuel racing in Michigan trace all the way back to 1933. The horse racing industry enjoyed several strong decades in the aftermath of legalization, but times have changed and the industry is much smaller today than in years past.

Just one racetrack remains in operation today and serves as the sole venue for in-person racing betting. The legality of online racing betting is unclear, but a couple of US-legal horse racing site does operate in Michigan and provides mobile betting on races held around the world.

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Online Racing Betting in Michigan

The legality of online racing betting in Michigan was unclear for many years, but that changed in 2019 when lawmakers approved a bill to amend the Horse Racing Law of 1995. The 2019 bill updated the Horse Racing Law to specifically authorized advance deposit wagering operators (ADWs) that are licensed by the state.

Since mid-2020, ADWs are required to apply for licenses to offer online and mobile horse racing betting in Michigan. The law requires would-be operators to:

  • Submit a business plan
  • Apply for a license and pay a $1,000 application fee
  • Pay a $500 licensing fee once approved

The Michigan Gaming Control Board oversees pari-mutuel wagering with the Horse Racing Law of 1995 serving as the guide.

AN ACT to license and regulate the conducting of horse race meetings in this state with pari-mutuel wagering on the results of horse races and persons involved in horse racing and pari-mutuel gaming activities at such race meetings; to create the office of racing commissioner; to prescribe the powers and duties of the racing commissioner; to prescribe certain powers and duties of the department of agriculture and the director of the department of agriculture; to provide for the promulgation of rules; to provide for the imposition of taxes and fees and the disposition of revenues; to impose certain taxes; to create funds; to legalize and permit the pari-mutuel method of wagering on the results of live and simulcast races at licensed race meetings in this state; to appropriate the funds derived from pari-mutuel wagering on the results of horse races at licensed race meetings in this state; to prescribe remedies and penalties; and to repeal acts and parts of acts.

Further details on the laws surrounding online horse racing betting in the state can be found in Section 431.318 of the act, as well as in the general rules posted online by the Office of Racing Commissioner.

Licensed Michigan Racetracks

The closure of Hazel Park Raceway in 2018 left just one operating race track in Michigan. Harness racing is occasionally featured on the state and county fair circuit, but those looking to watch racing live and in-person on a regular basis have just a single option.

Northville Downs

301 South Center Street
Northville, MI 48167

Northville opened its doors in 1944. The venue features live harness racing on select Friday and Saturday evenings. Simulcast racing is also offered on site every day and offers events from numerous tracks across the nation.

Visitors will also find Trackview Restaurant, which offers fare ranging from appetizers to entrees. Guests looking to make a trip out of the experience will find a number of hotels conveniently located near Northville Downs.

Off-Track Betting in Michigan

There are no standalone off-track betting facilities located in the state of Michigan. Northville Downs does over simulcasting of tracks from around the country, and online betting is available at the sites listed above.

Northville Downs OTB

Northville Downs features live harness racing on Friday and Saturday nights. The venue also has a simulcast facility which is open seven days per week and features racing action from all of the major tracks. Visitors will find plenty of private wagering terminals, as well as numerous large screen viewing options throughout the facility.

Michigan Horse Racing Betting Laws

Pari-mutuel wagering has been legal in the state of Michigan since 1933. It is overseen by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

The Horse Racing Law of 1995 established the Office of Racing Commissioner, as outlined in Section 431.303:

The office of racing commissioner is created within the department of agriculture. The racing commissioner has the powers and duties prescribed in this act and shall administer the provisions of this act relating to licensing, enforcement, and regulation. The racing commissioner also has those additional powers necessary and proper to implement and enforce this act and to regulate and maintain jurisdiction over the conduct of each licensed race meeting within this state where horse races or pari-mutuel wagering on the results of horse races is permitted for a stake, purse, prize, share, or reward.

The current laws surrounding pari-mutuel racing are referenced numerous times on what’s also known as Act 279 of 1995, including in Section 431.317:

Lawful forms of pari-mutuel wagering; preapproval by racing commissioner required; use of totalisator or other device; commission retained by holder of race meeting license; definitions; retention and payment of breaks; payoff prices of tickets; “minus pool” defined; patron less than 18 years old prohibited; wagering to occur at licensed race meeting; prohibited conduct; felony; penalty; “act or transaction relative to pari-mutuel wagering on results of live or simulcast horse races” defined.