The Michigan horse racing betting industry is limited in scope relative to other states, but residents do not suffer a complete lack of wagering options. Licensed horse betting sites and Northville Downs both provide safe, legal wagering on races held in Michigan and elsewhere.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) serves as the state’s regulatory body over horse racing. MGCB duties include issuing licenses to tracks and advance deposit wagering providers (ADWs), collecting tax revenue, monitoring the conduct of parimutuel wagering in Michigan, and more.
Michigan legalized horse racing in 1933, and more recent updates to the law established a formal licensing process for advance deposit wagering (online betting). Major ADWs that offer their services in Michigan provide betting on races held worldwide in an environment that is legal and safe.
Michigan Horse Racing Betting Sites
Best Horse Racing Betting Apps in MI
State law requires all mobile horse racing betting sites and mobile apps to acquire licenses from the Michigan Gaming Control Board. A small number of providers have successfully applied for licenses and now offer their services to customers who are 18 or older, residents of Michigan, and located within state lines.
AmWager offers the most comprehensive horse racing betting experience on the market today, with races from nearly 500 tracks and numerous handicapping tools integrated into the platform. Android, iOS, and desktop users can get started at AmWager.com.
TVG is a mainstay in horse racing betting, named after the TVG horse racing network. The name holds a favorable reputation among customers and provides a full menu of horse racing betting, frequent promotions, and live streaming racing video plus content from the TVG network.
Michigan was formerly home to numerous horse racetracks, but declining revenues have resulted in all but one closing permanently.
The decline of Michigan horse racing can be partially attributed to a 2004 measure requiring new gambling ventures to be approved by voters in local and statewide votes. This measure has successfully prevented racetracks from adding slots and effectively competing for entertainment dollars.
310 S Center Street
Northville, MI 48167
Northville Downs operates as Michigan’s only active racetrack and hosts two live harness racing meets each year. The first runs from March through June and the second from October through December. Live racing at Northville Downs kicks off each Friday and Saturday at 7:30 PM.
In 2020, the MGCB approved a partnership between TVG and Northville Downs to offer mobile horse racing betting. That same year, the MGCB approved a similar partnership between Northville Downs and Churchill Downs Inc.
The approvals came while Northville Downs’ simulcasting center was closed due to COVID-19 and was therefore an important victory for the track’s financial prospects. According to MGCB reports, Northville Downs generated the vast majority of its parimutuel wagering handle via simulcasting even before it partnered with TVG and Churchill Downs for advance deposit wagering.
Sports Creek Raceway (Closed)
4290 Morrish Road
Swartz Creek, MI 48473
Sports Creek Raceway was a racetrack in Swartz Creek near Flint that closed in 2015. AmRace & Sports LLC purchased the track in 2018 and attempted to renovate the facility ahead of a 2020 or 2021 reopening.
However, AmRace has delayed its reopening plans multiple times as the firm lobbies the Michigan legislature to authorize historical horse racing machines that function similarly to slots. AmRace has called the devices “absolutely critical” for the future of horse racing in Michigan.
Hazel Park Raceway (Closed)
1650 E 10 Mile Road
Hazel Park, MI 48030
Hazel Park Raceway offered thoroughbred horse racing, harness racing, and parimutuel wagering from 1949 until its permanent closure in 2018. The facility was sold to Ashley Capital and demolished to pave the way for the construction of a sprawling industrial warehouse.
Mount Pleasant Meadows (Closed)
500 N Mission Road
Mount Pleasant, MI 48858
Mount Pleasant Meadows racetrack opened in 1985 and operated against the odds from the beginning in a town of less than 30,000 and far from any major cities. The track opened as a mixed-breed venue before switching to pure thoroughbred racing in its final years.
Investors pulled their funding in 2013, and the track surrendered its racing license shortly thereafter. Mount Pleasant Meadows operated as a training facility for the next two years and then served a short stint as a snowmobile track.
Michigan Online Horse Racing Betting Law
US-based ADWs operated openly in Michigan before the passage of the law, but they did so on uncertain legal footing. The implementation of HB 4310 clarified the issue by expressly legalizing advance deposit wagering in Michigan and creating a licensing process for providers.
HB 4310 amended Section 431.308 of the Horse Racing Law to establish “third party facilitator licenses” for online betting operators. The MGCB later issued an order providing additional details related to licensing conditions and fees.
Key regulations for Michigan ADWs:
- Operators must submit a plan of operations for approval
- $1,000 application fee and $500 license renewal fee for operators
- $500 licensing fee, renewed annually
- Each prospective ADW operator must have a joint contract with all race meeting licensees and certified horsemen’s organizations in Michigan before applying for a license
- Licensed ADWs “may not sell or share an applicant or account holder’s confidential information” or use it for any purpose other than processing wagers without the customer’s consent
Under the law, licensed Michigan horse racing betting apps may offer wagers on races held in-state or out of state. Customers may be on the Kentucky Derby, Breeders’ Cup, and other major races from anywhere within state lines.
Additional regulations adopted by the Michigan Gaming Control Board provide further details. R 431.5015 states customers must be 18 or older to sign up for online betting accounts and requires all licensed ADWs to collect the following information from customers:
- Full legal name and address
- Residential address
- Phone number
- Identification that verifies the customer’s age
Michigan does not have any standalone OTBs, which leaves Northville Downs as the only location with simulcast racing and wagering. Simulcast wagering at Northville Downs covers racetracks across the country and generates significantly more wagering activity than live racing does at the track.
None of Michigan’s casinos offer horse racing betting at this time.
Horse Racing Betting in Detroit
Detroit horse racing betting options are limited to licensed ADWs and Northville Downs just west of Detroit in Northville. Detroit’s commercial casinos operate retail sportsbooks but do not offer parimutuel horse racing betting.
The most convenient option for fans in the Detroit area is advance deposit wagering – placing wagers online through licensed betting sites and mobile apps. Several of the country’s major horse racing betting operators accept customers across the state of MIchigan, including Detroit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the minimum age to bet on horse races in Michigan?
State law enforces a minimum age of 18 to bet on horse racing in Michigan.
How long will Northville Downs remain in operation?
Northville Downs extended its land lease in early 2020 to continue holding harness races through 2024. Northville Downs sold its land to a housing development company in 2018 and initially said it would continue holding races through 2020.
However, the development company had to delay its plans, and Northville Downs was able to extend its lease through 2024. Track operators say they are still eyeing other locations in the Detroit area in the hopes of reopening the track elsewhere after the 2024 season.
How long is the race track at Northville Downs?
Northville Downs features a ½ mile oval track with a 440-foot stretch and a passing lane.
Where can I find a schedule of live horse races in Michigan?
See the MGCB website here for a current schedule of this year’s races.
Which deposit methods do Michigan racebooks accept?
Michigan racebooks accept a variety of common deposit methods.
Michigan’s Horse Racing General Rules (R 431.5020) states licensed ADWs may accept deposits via cash, check or money order, electronic funds transfer (echeck), and other methods approved by the MGCB such as PayPal, credit cards, and debit cards.
What horse racing associations operate in Michigan?
Michigan is home to two major horse racing associations: