Michigan-based racecourse Northville Downs has announced plans to schedule 54 days of live pari-mutuel horse racing on Fridays and Saturdays throughout 2021, under an order issued October 27 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB).
The track has also received permission to simulcast races to and from the venue, and conduct simulcast pari-mutuel wagering throughout next year except on April 4, November 25 and December 24 and 25.
The 2021 live standardbred horse racing season will be split into two segments: March 19 to June 26 and October 1 to December 18.
“It has been a challenging year for live horse racing, and we hope the 2021 season will go well,” said Richard S. Kalm, MGCB executive director. “The added option of mobile betting approved this year provides extra support for Michigan’s horse racing industry and may draw new fans to the sport.”
The MGCB approved Churchill Downs Incorporated to offer advance deposit wagering to customers in the state in September this year, allowing the operator to accept mobile bets on live and simulcast pari-mutuel racing in partnership with Northville Downs.
The 2020 live season was postponed as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, starting on August 14 after the initially scheduled opening date of March 20 was pushed back. The current season includes 36 live racing dates, rather than the 52 originally scheduled, and will end December 12.
Under orders from the MGCB, Northville must limit the capacity of its grandstand, bar and restaurant area to no more than 896 people, an 85% reduction in capacity, by removing over 100 tables, 500 chairs and 200 televisions from the venue.
Additional health and safety measures, including mandatory face coverings for staff and visitors, social distancing requirements, temperature checks and enhanced cleaning and sanitation, are also in place.
A second applicant was denied 2021 race meeting and simulcast permits in Michigan, as its application did not comply with statutory license requirements.
AmRace & Sports LLC applied for Sports Creek Raceway near Flint, but the agency determined the application incomplete and lacking in necessary supporting information.
Retail sports betting made a contribution of $4.4m in Michigan in September, its first full month of activity in the state.
While retail betting launched on March 11, properties were forced to closed just days later and could not reopen until August 5.