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Michigan Gaming Control Board Offers to Work With Jackson Legislators to Improve Local Horse Racing Options, Denies 2015 Meet License


3062 W. Grand Blvd., L-700 – Detroit.
3:30 P.M.
Contact: Information Officer MGCB, Mary Kay Bean - (313) 456-1344


Michigan Gaming Control Board offers to work with Jackson legislators to improve local horse racing options, denies 2015 meet license

Detroit-The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) issued 2015 horse race meeting licenses today, but Jackson Raceway LLC was denied a race meet license for next year. Jackson’s difficulty with restarting racing stems largely from the Michigan Horse Racing Law of 1995, which limits purse pool sharing.

Jackson County applied for a horse racing track license with the MGCB; that application is still under consideration. Jackson Raceway LLC, a private entity, signed a lease with the county to run races at the track and a contract with the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association (MHHA) to conduct standardbred racing in 2015.

Jackson Raceway LLC requested to run 28 days of live racing at Jackson County Fairgrounds in 2015. The MHHA sought approximately $38,000 in purse pool money per race date, or a total of about $1 million for the racing season. Generally, most of these expenses would come from simulcast purse pool distributions. Unfortunately, Jackson Raceway LLC was not eligible for purse pool money and did not have sufficient funding to pay the horsemen.  

“Under the current law, the MGCB cannot approve a horse race meet license if sufficient financial resources will not be available to pay for it,” said Richard Kalm, MGCB executive director. “Jackson Raceway LLC does not have the money available to meet those financial obligations. Other race meet licensees at other tracks will be allocated money from the simulcast purse pool. Because Jackson Raceway LLC did not have racing in 2014, the law makes it ineligible to receive a simulcast purse pool distribution in 2015. The law creates a chicken-and-egg situation.

“I know that racing is important to many of Jackson’s leaders, and we applaud the county for the job it did assembling the information needed to assess the feasibility of a horse race track in Jackson,” he said. “Representatives Poleski and Shirkey spoke very clearly and persistently about the importance of racing to the area. The inability to approve racing has everything to do with the current law and nothing to do with the community.”

Kalm offered to work with Representatives Shirkey, Poleski and other legislators and representatives of the horse racing community interested in updating the Horse Racing Law.

“The law was written 20 years ago when the horse racing industry was very different,” he said. “If the horse racing industry and the Legislature can reach a consensus on what they seek, we are glad to recommend changes.”

"The Michigan Gaming Control Board shall ensure the conduct of fair and honest gaming to protect the interests of the citizens of the State of Michigan."