A bill, SB 504, has been introduced into the Michigan legislature which will change the way simulcast revenue will be split as this legislation updates the Michigan Racing Act of 1995.
First the good news. A literal reading of the bill indicates only thoroughbred and standardbred licenses may be issued. Apparently quarter horse, Arabian, appaloosa, and American paint horse meets will no longer be licensed and being there is no reference to mixed meets, those breeds will no longer be able to race in Michigan.
The bill also requires 75 days of harness racing at tracks outside of city areas and 100 days within city areas in order to have simulcasting (though there is part of the legislation which indicates the track with the highest average handle the prior year in a city must request 140 days with all other standardbred tracks totaling 120 days combined). Similar requirements also impact the runners.
Now the bad news. Currently, 60% of simulcast revenue funds standardbred purse accounts while 40% funds thoroughbred accounts. Under provisions of the proposed bill, All revenue from each breed simulcast will be going directly to the respective purse accounts. Hence all standardbred simulcasts will fund standardbred purse accounts and the same for thoroughbred simulcasting.
Well, its no secret most money wagered on simulcast races finds its way to thoroughbred races. Hence one can expect to see purses cut on harness races.
Needless to say, standardbred horsemen are not happy while thoroughbred horsemen are pleased as the old racing legislation was written when harness racing was king and thoroughbred racing had little say in the legislature. Where both groups agree is their opposition to a different bill which would allow casinos to offer sports betting and yes, offer simulcasting of horse races; this in a state which has crippled racing and refuses to allow them to become racinos. Tracks are bound to be unhappy as presently Northville is scheduled for 60 days (Hazel Park 30 running dates) next year; the legislation would require more racing dates.