While advance deposit wagering (ADW) in Michigan missed the first pole of the Triple Crown, it’s here for horse racing’s home stretch.
Though ADW missed the target of being live in time for the Belmont Stakes earlier this month, TVG launched this week in the Great Lakes State on a temporary license.
The FanDuel Group-owned brand is the first third-party facilitator to adhere to state regulations in offering online horse betting.
More options are on the way for Michigan horse racing fans, the operator of the state’s only surviving horse track told PlayMichigan.
“We’re just glad to have that partnership up and going,” said Mike Carlo, Northville Downs operations manager. “We have a common goal in trying to serve the racing fans in Michigan the best we possibly can. Given the circumstances of COVID, right now this is the best we can possibly do.”
Carlo says more Michigan ADW options on the way
Regulators and the state’s pair of horsemen’s associations have empowered Carlo to strike deals with third-party facilitators for online wagering.
An order was issued Friday by Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Richard Kalm, the state’s horse racing commissioner, for Northville Downs to conduct ADW. A second order granted a conditional 30-day license to TVG.
Full licensure depends on TVG meeting the terms, conditions, and suitability standards contained in the Michigan Horse Racing Act and the licensing order, according to MGCB spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean.
TVG is first to market, which is interesting because it was not operating previously in Michigan while some others were. TVG had not yet responded Tuesday to PlayMichigan for comment.
Carlo added TwinSpires, owned by Churchill Downs, is also going through the regulatory process and he expects them to go live soon.
Carlo said this month that Xpressbet and NYRA Bets were candidates for an early launch in Michigan, too. He expects them to come on board.
“It was important, naturally, to get one of them signed up,” Carlo said. “Now that we have one, we can at least catch our breath and say, ‘OK, now it’s easier to get to the second one.'”
Whitmer paved way for ADW in December
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer brought advance deposit wagering to Michigan as part of expanded gambling laws signed in December.
A change to the 1995 horse racing law allowed Northville Downs to contract third-party firms to facilitate wagering on live and simulcast pari-mutuel racing.
For ADW, a bettor creates an account with the third-party facilitator and can use a mobile device or computer to place wagers.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board announced licensing terms and conditions in May.
Licensing process holds up other companies
Kalm laid out the terms and conditions for ADW applicants in May. The procedure is:
- Apply for a license.
- Provide a proposed plan of operation.
- Submit any proposed system operation plan changes to the MGCB executive director for pre-approval.
- Pay a $1,000 application fee and a $500 license renewal fee to the MGCB to cover background investigation costs.
- Use and communicate pari-mutuel wagers to a pari-mutuel system that meets all Michigan requirements.
Northville Downs took in over $62 million in wagers in 2019, netting the state $2.1 million in taxes. There is a 3.5% state racing tax on all money wagered on simulcast races at Northville Downs.
Terms set for TVG and the proposals for other companies were not known Tuesday.
The 2020 live racing season at Northville Downs has been wiped out so far because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carlo has said the track would be ready for harness racing soon after Whitmer lifts restrictions.
“I can say with 100% certainty that we’re ready,” Carlo said.
Michigan missed Belmont, ready for Kentucky Derby
Carlo said earlier this month he was hoping to have ADW live for the Belmont Stakes.
However, it didn’t happen, and Tiz the Law crossed the finish line on June 20 with nary a Michigan bet cashing in through ADW.
With a dearth of live sports during the pandemic, horse racing is experiencing a bit of a resurgence.
We’ll see how many other online horse betting companies are live statewide in time for the next Triple Crown legs.
The Kentucky Derby is rescheduled for Sept. 5, and the Preakness Stakes is on Oct. 3.