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Horse racing resumes in Michigan at Northville Downs


Horse racing – and simulcast wagering – has resumed in Michigan, with Northville Downs holding live standardbred races from August 14. 

The resumption of pari-mutuel racing at Northville was authorized by an executive order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, which also saw Detroit’s commercial casinos reopen from August 5, following their novel coronavirus (Covid-19) shut-down. 

It was then facilitated by an order from Michigan Gaming Control Board executive director Richard Kalm, which approved events on 18 Fridays and Saturdays through to 10 October. 

Live racing had been scheduled to begin from March 20, with 52 live race dates planned for the year, before this was pushed back to mid-August as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Under Kalm’s order, Northville must limit the capacity of its grandstand, bar and restaurant area to no more than 896 people – an 85% reduction – by removing more than 100 tables, 500 chairs and 200 televisions.

Other public healthy and safety measures are also in place, with masks mandatory for all patrons, and social distancing requirements in place. All attendees will also be required to undergo temperature checks, with enhanced cleaning and sanitisation protocols also in place. 

“We’re requiring the track and the racing teams to limit personal interactions to what is required run a live race meeting safely,” Kalm said. “This level of care also must be extended to fans who visit the track.”

It comes after advance deposit wagering was approved by Kalm in an order on June 26, with Flutter Network’s TVG Network granted a temporary license on the same day. 

Kalm added that for fans that preferred to stay at home, they could still place bets on live and simulcast pari-mutuel races through TVG, with other third-party providers potentially launching soon.