After nearly five months of closure, Northville Downs opened for simulcast horse racing betting on Thursday.
The facility, Michigan’s only surviving horse racing track, had been closed since March 16 because of the coronavirus spread.
The 2020 live racing season will open on Aug. 14 with live racing on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m., according to the track website. The new opening date will be the first of 18 racing dates on Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 10.
The season’s first 28 race days were wiped out during the shutdown.
As for the crowd for Thursday’s simulcast opening, operations manager Mike Carlo told PlayMichigan the regulars came out in full force.
“Picked up right where we left off,” Carlo wrote, in a text message.
No summer break: Live racing opener coming soon
Before COVID-19, Northville Downs was scheduled to take a summer hiatus for live racing during July and August. However, Carlo told PlayMichigan this summer that Northville Downs would start racing whenever possible to make up for lost time.
Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave the word that Northville Downs could reopen this week.
As part of an executive order that allowed Detroit’s three commercial casinos to reopen, Northville Downs was given the go-ahead on Wednesday.
15% capacity, mask requirements among guidelines
Richard Kalm, the Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director and horse racing commissioner, laid out guidelines for the reopening.
- Wearing a face mask at all times, with employees changing masks and gloves on a regular basis
- Daily entry screening protocols, including a questionnaire and temperature screening
- Employees required to wash hands every 60 minutes
- 15% capacity rate to a maximum of 896 persons, removing 100 tables, 500 chairs and 200 televisions
- Plexiglass shields at every teller and customer service desk
- Additional requirements for the barns, track and other outdoor areas
On its Facebook page, Northville Downs indicated it was going through an inspection this week before opening its doors.
At 11 a.m. on Thursday, the track opened its facilities for dining and simulcast betting. The track will be open seven days a week opening at 11 a.m. until about midnight.
TVG only operator up and running for horse betting apps
Michigan residents no longer have to come to Northville Downs to make sanctioned horse racing bets.
Advance-deposit wagering for horse racing was part of the expanded gambling laws signed by Whitmer in December, which also brought sports betting to Michigan.
Several companies have been in touch with Carlo about obtaining licenses.
So far, TVG Horse Betting is the only approved online vendor for horse racing wagers. The FanDuel Group platform went live in Michigan in late June.
Carlo has said platforms like TwinSpires, Xpressbet and NYRA Bets could be live in Michigan soon.