The Michigan House has approved a bill that would restore some funding for the state's horse racing programs.
Pinnacle Race Course, which just opened last year, has been ordered to cut 2009 dates by 63% because of budget reductions in Michigan, the Michigan Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association reported May 20.
After an executive order from Gov. Jennifer Granholm that 100% of the $1.4 million earmarked for Michigan's Thoroughbred programs for 2009 would be used instead to deal with the state's immense budget deficit, local horsemen feared their industry would die a quick death.
Michigan's horseracing industry, already reeling from decreases in revenue and the possible closure of Great Lakes Downs after this season, is facing an Oct. 1 shutdown should the state legislature fail to approve a budget.
Christine White, who has served as interim Michigan racing commissioner since January, has been appointed racing commissioner.
Thanks largely to an advertising onslaught led by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's Proposal 1, the ballot initiative that would effectively prohibit racinos in the state, has slipped dramatically in polls and is now considered a toss-up in the Nov. 2 election.
Legislation to legalize video lottery terminals at Michigan racetracks took a tenuous, toddling step forward April 29 when the state Senate narrowly approved a racino bill after nearly a year of inaction. But much work remains.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said a proposal to authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks is one possible way to help balance the state's budget.
Another legislative package that would bring video gaming to Michigan racetracks has been launched in the state House. And while circumstances point to this attempt as having the best chance yet of becoming law, lurking in the corner is the 600-pound gorilla of the Michigan gaming industry--the Detroit casino lobby--ready to quash any infringement upon its territory.
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