Skip to main content

Michigan Gaming Control Board orders release of about $1 million in escrowed prize money to Hazel Park Raceway, Mich. Harness Horsemen

DETROIT, September 5, 2017 - The Michigan Gaming Control Board today ordered the release of about $1 million in horse racing purse pool money held in escrow for Hazel Park Raceway and the Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association since February 2015.

The money originally was placed in escrow because the two organizations did not sign a race meeting contract for 2015. As stipulated by state law, the MGCB ordered MHHA racing prize money accrued at Hazel Park held in escrow until an agreement to race was signed.  Last year, the Michigan Legislature amended the Horse Racing Act to allow distribution in 2017.

“We could not disburse purse pool funds allocated to harness racing at Hazel Park Raceway unless the MHHA signed a new contract to race there,” said Richard Kalm, MGCB executive director. “Since the 2014 season ended, MHHA has not signed a contract to race at Hazel Park.

“We may release the funds now thanks to the legislation sponsored last year by Sen. David Robertson and Rep. Dan Lauwers,” Kalm said. “This change in the law will help the state’s horse racing industry.”

The legislation required distribution of the funds in escrow for a race meeting if the harness horsemen and the track reached an agreement by Sept. 1, 2017. If not, the funds were to be split between the track and the association.

The MHHA will receive about $850,000, or 85 percent, of the money for prize purses at Northville Downs or any race meeting in the state for which it has a contract. Hazel Park Raceway will receive about $150,000, or 15 percent, of the funds for track operations and enhancements.

Today’s order stipulates Hazel Park Raceway must report to the MGCB how the money is used for track operations and enhancements.

"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."