MHHA positions on pending legislation

Michigan’s horse racing industry is an important component of Michigan’s agricultural economy. It has a strong history in this state and involves many people and professions. The Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association strongly encourages and supports any legislation or department directive that strengthens the industry and supports its continued growth. 

We believe, in order to have a sustainable horse racing industry that is competitive with neighboring states, we must:

  1. Allow the industry to modernize and use tools, with a dedicated portion of the revenue reserved for purses for live Michigan races, that will provide for a self-sustaining industry and provide an attractive business model for future race track investment.
  2. Multiple pari-mutuel racing facilities, with competitive purses, to allow for year-round racing in Michigan, and allow for horsemen to make a living here in Michigan without the need to travel to surrounding states.
  3. Have a strong county fair program and sire stakes program that offers competitive purses and extends the accessibility of horse racing to every corner of the state. 
  4. Have a strong breeding program that incentivizes individuals to breed to Michigan stallions, Michigan mares and keep their investment in the State of Michigan. 

We believe these items are achieved through:

PRIORITY ONE: Pass either SB 396 or SB 397, which will allow Michigan race tracks to offer either video lottery terminals (like race tracks in Ohio) or historical horse racing terminals (like race tracks in Kentucky). The use of either of these tools will provide a sustainable revenue stream, generated at Michigan race tracks, to fund live races in Michigan. Revenue from a tool at a race track will always be harder to take away than a subsidy from other industries which could potentially be shifted to other items like education or transportation, especially during an economic recession. 

PRIORITY TWO: Pass HB 4823 and HB 4824 which lift the 3-million-dollar deposit cap on tax revenue to the MI Agricultural Equine Industry Development Fund (AEIDF) from the Lawful Internet Gaming Act and the Lawful Sports Betting Act. These bills would increase the available revenue available for county fair programs, breeder’s incentives, and Michigan stakes races from the current 3-million-dollar cap to roughly 8 million dollars annually. 

PRIORITY THREE: Pass HB 4599 and HB 4600 which update the regulations surrounding the MI Agricultural Equine Industry Development Fund (AEIDF). These updates would lift the cap on the AEIDF, provide for more lucrative breeder’s awards, and give more flexibility to county fairs and the horse racing industry as they develop programs for young horses or races limited to horses that are Michigan owned or bred. 

If these items are achieved, we further believe that the racing industry will continue to grow the Michigan agricultural economy and provide quality paying job opportunities for farmers, feed stores, veterinarians, breeders, trainers, drivers, and more.