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Online betting allowed for Northville Downs

6th May, 22:34

Northville Downs will be allowed to accept online bets through a third-party firm once harness racing is cleared to start again in Michigan.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board issued an order Wednesday allowing online wagering on harness racing -- a win for the only remaining horse racetrack in the state.

Online wagering also offers a potential path for Northville Downs to reopen without in-person spectators.

The order allows online betting through a third-party provider on horse races around the country, not just at Northville Downs.

The track has not opened for the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. It, like all other nonessential businesses, has been ordered to remain closed through at least May 28.

The order follows an amendment made in December to the Horse Racing Law of 1995, allowing for third-party companies to offer wagering on live and simulcast pari-mutuel racing.

"The order should enable the state's horse racing industry to gain new followers through (advance deposit wagering) and maintain protection for citizens who wish to place wagers on live and simulcast pari-mutuel racing in Michigan using their mobile phones," Richard Kalm, executive director of the control board, said in a news release from the control board.

Before online wagering is implemented at Northville Downs, the track must select a third-party company to facilitate bets and apply for a license, which includes a $1,000 application fee and $500 renewal fee. The track must also strike agreements with its harness racers on how the wager earnings will be divvied up.

It is unclear when horse racing will be cleared to resume and if in-person spectators will be allowed.

Northville Downs operator Mike Carlo could not be immediately reached for comment.

Sports betting and online betting were also legalized in Michigan in December. While on-site sports gambling rolled out just as casinos were ordered to close over the coronavirus outbreak, online gambling is not expected to happen until early next year.

Control board spokeswoman Mary Bean said there have not been any plans to speed up implementation of online gambling as a result of casino closures.

By Kurt Nagl