Michigan Senator Predicts Passage of VLT Bill

by Tom Schram

A member of the state Senate committee considering legislation that would allow video lottery terminals at Michigan racetracks predicted the week of March 22 that the bill would be voted out of committee and passed by the Senate this spring.

Sen. Robert Emerson, a Democrat from Flint and a member of the Senate Gaming and Oversight Committee, told the Royal Oak Daily Tribune a committee vote could come by the end of April.

"But I'm not sure when," Emerson said. "That's up to the chair, and he is concerned about doing it right now before the spring break. I believe it will pass the Senate."

The Michigan House of Representatives last May passed a bill that would allow 500 or more VLTs at each existing racetrack. Emerson said the Senate version of the bill would differ from the House version and would need to go to conference committee if and when it passes the Senate.

Michigan currently has seven operating racetracks: Great Lakes Downs, a Thoroughbred track near Muskegon; Mount Pleasant Meadows, a mixed-breed facility in Mount Pleasant; and five Standardbred tracks: Hazel Park and Northville Downs near Detroit, Jackson Raceway in Jackson, Saginaw Harness in Saginaw, and Sports Creek Raceway near Flint.

Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Great Lakes Downs, wants to build a dual-breed track called Michigan Downs in the Detroit metropolitan area.