NYRA Bets Approved As Michigan’s Fourth Online Horse Racing Betting Operator

Written By Matt Schoch on October 18, 2021

NYRA Bets is now the fourth approved Michigan online horse racing betting operator, the Michigan Gaming Control Board announced Monday.

The New York Racing Association subsidiary joins TVG, Churchill Downs and Xpress Bet as options for Michiganders to make advance deposit wagers on pari-mutuel horse races worldwide.

“Michigan horse racing fans now have another option for using mobile wagering to place bets from anywhere in the state on horse races,” MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams said in a statement announcing the provisional license.

NYRA Bets operates Belmont Park, home of Belmont Stakes

NYRA Bets operates the three largest thoroughbred horse racing tracks in New York State: Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

Belmont Park is home to one of horse racing’s Triple Crown races, the Belmont Stakes. Another of Michigan’s betting brands, Churchill Downs, operates the Kentucky Derby.

The third Triple Crown race is the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Michigan has long history with horse racing betting

Pari-mutuel horse racing has been active in Michigan since 1933. However, several horse racing tracks have been shuttered throughout the state over several decades. The only one still active is Northville Downs in metro Detroit.

To boost up the sport and associated agricultural interests, mobile horse racing wagering was added to Michigan’s betting menu as part of a series of new Michigan gambling laws approved in December 2019 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. There, Michigan’s Horse Racing Law of 1995 was amended to allow a race meeting licensee to use contracted third-party firms to facilitate wagering on live and simulcast races across the world.

A bettor creates an account with the third-party facilitator. Then, they can use a mobile device or computer to place wagers on pari-mutuel races using money on deposit.

The MGCB approved mobile wagering on horse races in June 2020 when TVG was approved. Churchill Downs followed in September 2020, and Xpress Bet was approved in March 2021. In 2020, Michiganders wagered $35.8 million online on horse races. Those wagers raised $839,123 in state tax money.

For context, Detroit casinos took $130.8 million in sports wagers in 2020 after it launched in March at the three downtown gambling halls. Sports betting in Detroit raised $690,865 in taxes for the state and $844,391 for the city of Detroit.

The NYRA Bets license is valid in Michigan until Dec. 31, 2022, unless the operator fails to maintain its contract or other regulatory changes occur.

Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP
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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the former host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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