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Regulated Sports Betting Boosts Michigan Horse Racing Business

When the State of New Jersey moved to overturn The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PAPSA) in 2009, part of the idea was that regulated sports betting would help lift other sectors of the gaming business that were on life support. Now, 13 years later, that exact dynamic is playing out in the state of Michigan, where regulated sports betting has thrown a significant lifeline to the state’s struggling horse racing business.

According to a recent report from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB), taxes collected from the state’s various forms of legal, online wagering generated $8.1 million in taxes in 2021 for the Michigan Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund (AEIDF). “The AEIDF promotes economic development by providing funding in Michigan’s rural areas, and the proposed fiscal year 2023 budget includes continued opportunities to invest in our rural communities,” MGCB executive director Henry Williams said in a statement to the press.

More specifically, the MGCB states on its website, the AEIDF, “…supports the breeding of horses in Michigan, supports research beneficial to the industry and promotes horse racing and other equine competitions in the state. The AEIDF also supports MGCB’s regulatory expenses, including race personnel, licensing and blood testing.”

By way of comparison, the AEIDF only generated $2 million in 2020 and $2.3 million in 2019.

Regulated sports betting, on its own, is not likely to save the dying horse racing business across the United States. But in states like Michigan, where success runs downhill, the expansion of regulated online wagering is proving a much needed financial pipeline for the struggling business.