Crain’s Detroit Business reports a Michigan House of Representatives Republican task force has laid out a plan to improve the state’s agriculture industry which includes reforms to horse racing.
The task force, chaired by Fowlerville Rep. Cindy Denby, submitted the report following a series of town hall-style meetings and tours with members of the agriculture community last summer.
Among the topics discussed, the task force reviews how the state’s racing industry reached the shaky ground on which it stands today and revealed its strategy to reverse the trend.
The report examines the racing industry’s transfer to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the subsequent slashing of race dates and how funding to the state’s Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund has fallen through decreased income and more outside hands taking from the proverbial cookie jar.
To combat the financial shortfalls, the task force notes the recommendation by those in the racing industry to implement “instant gaming”, which has been approved in Nebraska, among other states. One would assume the report is referring to “instant racing” which has been successful in Arkansas (Nebraska just shot down instant racing, actually), but at least they are open to the idea.
Instant racing, which allows bettors to play stripped-down versions of previously run races, is viewed by the task force as “a solution that would not be expanding gambling, yet would provide an additional source of funding for the equine industry.”
The report also notes the lack of public knowledge regarding the racing industry and its situation, and calls for an increase in efforts to educate the population about the importance of horse racing in Michigan.
The section continues with a review of the Ag Equine Fund and its declining numbers. Noted in the report are the transfers of monies to the state’s general fund, testing for bovine tuberculosis and the end of the casino wagering tax on Detroit’s three non-tribal casinos.
At the end of the report’s horse racing segment, the task force offers the following points of action…
SHORT AND LONG TERM SOLUTIONS NEEDED TO SUSTAIN THE INDUSTRY:
– Develop cooperation between the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) and racing owners to help promote Michigan horse racing.
– Amend the make-up of the MGCB by requiring inclusion of horse industry representatives on the board.
– Require transparency of the MGCB and legislative oversight of the costs associated with horse racing breed by breed.
– Educate the public on the importance of horse racing to the state’s economy.
– Restrict appropriations from the equine fund to horse racing uses.
To view the full report, click here. The section highlighting the horse racing industry begins on page 15.