Michigan HBPA, General Membership Meeting and Nominating Meeting. Sunday, November 12 at 1:00 PM. The Holly Hotel, Second Floor.
This letter is to urge your membership to submit their application for occupational licenses prior to the start of live racing. Applications for occupational licenses are available several ways:
• On line at www.michigan.qov/mgcb
On the left select "Horse Racing", and then select "Forms". • On the Horse Racing Forms page select "Licensing Racing Forms", and download the appropriate application (Occupational License Form). • Once the application is completed the applicant may email the application to horseracinq (a~michigan.gov or mail it to MGCB Horse Racing 3062 West Grand Boulevard, Suite L-700 Detroit, MI 48202-6062 • If payment is included a License Fee Receipt will be mailed or emailed back to the applicant. If no fees are sent with the application the receipt will not be given until all fees are received.
At the tracks: Northville Downs Prior to the start of live racing the MGCB licensing office will be open starting Tuesday, January 31St The licensing office will be open each Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8:30am to 2:30pm. Starting February 28'h and during live racing the licensing office will be open on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30am to 2:30pm, and Friday and Saturday from 1:30pm to 8:30pm. These dates and times will remain in effect until the start of the dual race meets. Licensing dates and times during the dual race meets will be announced at a later date. Northville Downs Licensing Office Telephone # (248) 349-5458 Fax # (248) 349-9139 Hazel Park Raceway MGCB Licensing office will open on April 4th, times and schedule will be announced later.
3062 W. Grand Boulevard, Suite L-700, Detroit, MI 48202-6062 www.michigan.gov/mgcb
Administrative Rule R 431.1101(1) allows an occupational license applicant to enter restricted areas of a race track for a period of time not to exceed more than 10 days after filing of a license application, and if the applicant possesses a License Fee Receipt. Each applicant will receive their License Fee Receipt when submitting their occupational license with appropriate fee payment. The applicant must return to the licensing office 6 to 10 days after the application submission to retrieve their valid license. Entrance into the restricted areas of the race track will not be permitted after the 10 days with only a License Fee Receipt.
Possession of the License Fee Receipt or wearing of a valid license will be strictly enforced by track security and MGCB personnel.
If you have any questions on this letter please feel free to contact the MGCB.
Why is SB 504 necessary?
The horse racing industry has changed dramatically since the current Horse Racing Act was first passed in 1995. The industry has gone from a high of eight (8) tracks in 1995 to only two (2) tracks today. One track is in Hazel Park, a track that today runs Thoroughbred horses. A second track is in Northville a track that runs harness (Standardbred) horses.
The current outdated statute is killing the industry by maintaining a purse distribution formula which, in effect, subsidizes one entity at the expense of the other. This problem is so egregious that in 2015, Northville Downs (the recipient of the subsidy) was able to extend its season by two months and Hazel Park was forced to end its season two months early. In no other situation does the State of Michigan require one business to subsidize another in this manner. This should not continue.
SB 504 would eliminate the unintended subsidization and bring a more market-based approach to the Act by allowing revenues to be “site specific” as opposed to “pooled”. This gets government out of the way and allows the two entities – a track and a certified horseman’s organization (CHO) – to negotiate the business terms that will allow both to prosper.
Further, the current Act contains a number of sections that are outdated and no longer applicable. Under former Governor Granholm, the Office of Racing Commission was eliminated and regulatory authority was moved to the Michigan Gaming Control Board. The changes in SB 504, provides much needed clarification and flexibility to the industry that is necessary considering this regulatory change.
In what other ways does SB 504 modernize the Horse Racing Act?
Currently, the Act contains language that specifies when a track may race based on a city’s population. This language is no longer applicable for today’s industry and has been removed. In addition, SB 504 provides more flexibility between the CHO and a track to determine best business practices and not the regulators.
If SB 504 were to pass, how much would each CHO receive?
Currently under the Horse Racing Act, the formula divides the purse revenue in the following way:
- 65% to the Harness CHO
- 35% to the Thoroughbred CHO. (The Thoroughbred CHO also includes, Quarter Horses, Arabians, Paints and Appaloosa breeds.)
The following amounts are based on the 2015 simulcast wagering numbers. If SB 504 was in effect for the 2015 racing season, the simulcast revenue to each racing CHO under a ‘site specific’ model as proposed in SB 504 would have been:
Site specific: Hazel TBs NV Harness
$2,900,000 $2,300, 000
( The ‘site specific’ numbers are based on track reports ending December 30, 2015.)
In addition, the Harness horsemen have a specific line item in the Ag Equine Industry Development Fund (AEIDF) that supports harness racing at 11 county fairs. This funding is in addition to what they receive from the current simulcast purse pool distribution. SB 504 will NOT change the fair money distribution. Below is the current appropriated amount:
- Fair money for Harness racing purses: $708,000 (Source is from the Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund, Fairs/licensed track line item). These funds are in addition to the $2,300,000 the Harness horsemen receive from simulcast revenue.
The following is the actual 2015 purse fund distribution under the current Act:
- Hazel Thoroughbreds: $2,268,416
- Northville Harness: $2,824,379 plus $708,000 Fairs: Total $3,532,379
( The actual 2015 purse numbers are from the 2015 Deposit Summary Report produced by the Michigan Harness Horsemen Association. The Deposit Summary Report does not reflect revenue earned in 2015 but recorded in 2016.)
What is the total simulcast amount wagered at each track?
The 2015 simulcast wagering totals for each track are:
- Hazel Park Raceway: $56,604,693
- Northville Downs: $45,016,606
Does SB 504 protect live racing?
Yes. Live racing at Michigan’s two licensed race tracks is the backbone of the state’s equine industry. SB 504 requires that for a track to offer simulcast wagering, they must have a minimum of 30 live racing days. This is critical to the survival of Michigan’s horsemen and women.
Why should we care about the Michigan Horse Racing industry?
The 2012 Ag Census data shows that there are nearly 100,000 equine across Michigan. The equine industry is a significant economic generator of the overall Ag industry. Horse racing in Michigan is a big business, unfortunately under Michigan’s current structure many of the horsemen and women race in other states, particularly Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. SB 504 would help the Michigan’s racing industry modernize and continue to support Michigan hay farmers, veterinarians, breeding farms, grooms, tack suppliers and many other jobs.
From the MGCB: Here are the licensing hours effective April 25th thru Sept. 3rd. Please advise licensees to apply for their licenses prior to entering the restricted areas and before the day they are scheduled to race. Licensing applications are available online at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Hazel Park (313) 564-5397 or Northville Downs (248) 349-5458. Owner, jockey, driver, and trainer renewal applications may be sent by email, U.S. Mail, or fax with payment, and credit cards are accepted. Fax numbers are Hazel Park (248) 398-7583 or Northville Downs (248) 349-9139. Horses must have a current Rhino Vaccination within 6 months turned into the state veterinarian prior to entry. All trainers at Hazel Park Raceway will be required to fill out in full a workout/gate card, and given to the outrider upon entering the track prior to workout. This must be completed to receive credit for their horses workout.
Hazel Park Licensing Hours, April 25 to May 21:
Tuesdays: 7:30 AM to 2:00 PM
Wednesdays: 7:30 AM to Noon
Fridays: 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM
Saturdays: 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM
Baseball may be America’s Pastime, but it has unquestionably been supplanted by football as the primary spectator sport of choice. The National Football League has made amazing strides over the past few decades, turning itself into the preeminent sports league in the world. The NFL accomplished this in the same way that its most successful franchises win championships – teamwork.
The National Football League has several unique features that ensure a level of parity and regional access to the brand. A salary cap ensures that all teams compete on a level playing field in terms of player costs. An inverse draft system allows low-performing teams first access to the best college players each year.
Most importantly, though, is the NFL’s policy of revenue sharing that ensures that the brand is strong from Dallas, Texas to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Despite the fact that the lion’s share of television revenues are generated in a handful of major media market cities (New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, etc.), NFL rules stipulate that each franchise receives an even share of these funds. This helps to ensure that the sport maintains a strong foothold throughout the nation, and helps build a following that elevates the entire sport.
In a similar manner, the horse racing industry in Michigan pools simulcast revenues from various tracks around the state and shares them equally with all. The goal is to create a stable and consistent industry that spans multiple regions of the state.
Recently, some have argued that revenues generated by each specific track should be kept rather than shared. While this “site-specific” revenue would undoubtedly provide a short-term boost to the busier tracks, the long-term effects would be devastating to the entire industry. Smaller market tracks would soon go out of business, and before long Michigan might only have a single horse racing track. A sole venue would not be able to support the multi-million dollar industry, and some forms of racing (most notably thoroughbred and quarter horse) would cease altogether in Michigan.
This concept is the exact opposite of the practices that have made the NFL the most profitable sports league in the world – earning almost twice as much annually as its next closest competitor. Profit-sharing throughout the league demonstrates a long-term strategy that benefits the entire sport rather than just a few strong members. Conversely, site-specific racing revenues are the epitome of short-term, bottom-line planning that will benefit a small number of individuals at the expense of the majority of the sport’s participants.
Even worse, the long-term negative impact on the industry as a whole will eventually catch up to even the beneficiaries of site-specific simulcast revenues. Those lucky few will watch their profits dwindle as Michigan’s horse racing industry implodes. Eventually, the only real revenues for the one or two remaining tracks will be almost completely generated from races in other states. This idea is a bad deal for all involved, even those who might to stand to gain in the short run.
It becomes more difficult to draw a conclusion, that allowing an industry with a 77 year history to compete fairly is the "expansion" of gaming and a shallow argument at best, with:
1) More than 25 Casinos, with plans for more!
2) Hundreds of "Charity Poker" games taking place
3)Tens of millions wagered on the internet by Michigan residents, illegally on horse racing....state, tracks and horsemen receive -0-!
4) Lottery grows with Mega Millions and PowerBall, new games almost weekly, and Keno everywhere In light of the above, the "expansion" of gaming is a shallow argument vs the loss of 12,000 jobs and the elimination of hundreds of family businesses.
There appears to be more at work here! Under the current environment, Michigan's horse racing industry is facing two choices:
1) Get out of the state
2) Be forced out of the business.
WHAT'S AT STAKE: An entire industry that exists in almost every county in Michigan, and provides jobs for thousands of families! Horse racing has been a productive business in Michigan for more than 79 years, that provides: 12,000 family jobs Approx. 400 million dollars in economic impact, huge impact on agriculture 84,000 green acres Each race horse involves a significant numbers jobs and products: Farm jobs; breeding, raising and training Hay, Grain, Bedding Supplies, Equipment, Trucks, Trailers, Fuel and Maintenance Grooms, Trainers, Riders, Vets and Blacksmiths Track employees, Tellers, Maintenance The industry continues work on amending the 1995 Racing Act that will allow the industry to compete fairly with the gaming industry. There are important issues that are close to agreement. When that is completed, the survival of the industry will depend on the support of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, quite a challenge. Not many industries face that challenge when a decision is made to offer more products that will allow them compete fairly within their industry. At the end of the day, horse racing depends on our elected officials. Take time to personally discuss your business with your legislator and ask for support, this may be our last chance.