The crystal ball is cloudy when it comes to the future of live horse racing in Michigan.
The Wolverine State, once a bastion of both thoroughbred and standardbred racing, is on the verge of having no tracks at all if a new home can’t be found for its one remaining harness racing track, Northville Downs.
While live racing is on the endangered list, Michiganders have many options for betting on horse races online, with the four major providers of advance-deposit wagering (ADW) websites – TwinSpires.com, TVG.com, NYRABETS.com, and Xpressbet.com – and many smaller operators accepting wagers.
The sites offer a variety of signup bonuses and rewards to attract new players, which means it pays to shop around and find a provider with a package that fits your bankroll and level of play.
You must be 21 or older to place online horse bets in Michigan.
Michigan Horse Race Betting Sites & Offers
|Racebooks||Welcome Offer for Louisiana||Other Promos|
|Nyra Bets||$200 deposit match||Odds boosters, daily offers|
|TVG||Get up to $200 back||Get a $25 Bonus for every friend you refer|
|TwinSpires||$200 sign-up offer||Free play daily & weekly options|
|Xpressbet||$100 sign-up bonus||XB Rewards loyalty program|
|1/ST BET||$100 sign-up bonus||Rewards points every Tuesday and other weekly offers|
|AmWager||$300 deposit match||Daily cash rewards|
|FanDuel Racing||Get a 100% bonus up to $50||10% bonus on win bets|
|Pointsbet||2 Risk-Free Bets up to $2,000||Free bets for points|
|WatchandWager.com||Bonus up to $25||The weekly 3-2-1 Bonus, no maximum payouts on cashback|
|Hollywoodraces.com||$200 Sign-Up Bonus||WINsurance Offers: refund up to $20|
How to claim a horse racing bet promo in Michigan?
Horse racing betting features for Michigan
- Nyra Bets Michigan Features:
- Free live video streaming (HD live and replay) on Thoroughbred, Harness and Quarter horse racing and race replays nationwide
- Free handicapping tips
- Swap positions quickly for Exacta, Tri & Supers
- Weekly live money handicapping contests with cash prizes
- TVG Michigan Features:
- TVG Expert Picks for everyday
- Free Past Performances Program
- Live streams from tracks around the US and beyond
- Money Back Special on select races
- Twinspires Michigan Features:
- First Race Freeplay: get $100 in Free Bets
- 15% boost on a winning Trifecta bet every Tuesday
- Exacta insurance: get a bet back of up to $10
- Live races and highlights of previous races, both on the website and the app
- Bet Back offers (receive a refund for your bet if the horse you bet on to win the race finishes in second or third)
- Daily Double bets
- Xpressbet Michigan Features:
- Horse racing’s leading loyalty program (receive two XB Rewards Points for every dollar you wager)
- Cash prizes in regular handicapping contests
- Deposit by mail
- Bet the horse races over the phone
- AmWager Michigan Features:
- Current and historical horse race results from a single screen
- Advanced wagering structuring tools. Dutching, ABC method, Rank betting.
- Fair Value Exacta Grid (allows you to quickly see exacta bets that have been over bet or under bet based on the win pool)
- FanDuel Michigan Features:
- Cash in with Win Bet insurance
- Live streaming (+200 tracks around the world)
- Best bets of the day
- 1st/bet Michigan Features:
- Up-to-date news about upcoming races
- Unlimited access to the BETMIX products: Toteboarding, Free Daily Race Analysis and “Race of the Day” Past Performance
- Hollywood Races Michigan Features:
- Free Expert Picks
- Loyalty program for top players
- Watch and Wager Michigan Features:
- Horse Racing Contests Daily for free
- Refer-a-Friend Bonus.
Horse bet types available online
In Michigan, you can place different types of horse wagers. The most popular online bets are
- Win (the horse you bet on must come first)
- Place (the horse must finish first or second)
- Show (the horse must come either first, second, or third)
- Win Place (places a win and a place bet in one bet)
- Win Show (places a win and a show bet in one bet)
- Win Place Show (aka “across the board”; combines Win, Place and Show into one bet)
- Exacta (you bet on horses to come first and second in that order)
- Quinella (the same as exacta, but horses can finish in any order for you to win the bet)
- Trifecta (three horses should finish first, second and third in that order)
- Superfecta (the same as trifecta but here you bet on four horses)
- Super High 5 (you have to choose the winner of five races in a row)
- Grand Slam (pick a horse to finish in the top three in three straight races, capped by the winner of the fourth race in the sequence)
- Parlays (combine multiple selections on the same ticket, even if the races aren’t in sequential order).
- Credit and Debit Cards
- ACH Bank Transfer / eCheck
- Wire Transfer
- Green Dot
- Check or Money Order
- By mail: Xpressbet & Hollywood Races
- Bitcoin: AmWager via BitPay
Michigan Horse Betting Overview
While unsanctioned horse races were undoubtedly run for many decades before the state legalized parimutuel betting in 1933, that change made betting on the sport the only form of legal gambling in Michigan and thrust racing into a dominant position in the state’s sporting scene.
A track at the Detroit Fairgrounds opened that year and drew the great Seabiscuit in the third year of its existence. The track became noted nationally for the Michigan Mile. The race, last run in 1993, regularly attracted some of the top horses in training, including Black Tie Affair, Lost Code, Waquoit, and the great racehorse and influential stallion Damascus.
Other tracks followed, with harness tracks opening in Northville and Jackson in the 1940s, along with the Hazel Park Raceway, which offered both thoroughbred and standardbred racing. Tracks were later opened in Hillsdale, Swartz Creek, Muskegon, and Mount Pleasant, a trend that continued into the 1970s and 1980s.
But increasing competition from other forms of gambling – primarily tribal casinos and a state lottery – began to eat into profits and started to cull the field. More recently that competition has expanded to include sports betting, including language in the law specifically approving wagering via mobile devices.
Thoroughbred racing was first to go, with the Detroit Race Course in suburban Livonia, which replaced the track at the fairgrounds in 1950, shutting its doors in 1998 and Hazel Park closing in 2018.
The harness tracks also failed one by one, leaving only Northville Downs still operating.
Its future is uncertain after 2024, however. A member of the ownership group told Michigan Farm News in 2021 that a deal has been reached to sell the land after the track met that year. The report said the partnership that operates the track is seeking a site for a new track.
Fun fact about horse racing in Michigan
While the Hall of Fame racehorse Damascus, winner of 21 of 32 starts during his career, ran in the 1968 Michigan Mile Handicap at Detroit Race Course in Livonia, he did not win. The son of Sword Dancer finished second that day behind NoDouble, becoming the 19th beaten favorite in the first 20 runnings of the race, according to a New York Times report from the time.
Popular horse racing events to bet on in Michigan
- Roger Huston Night at Northville Downs
- The Kentucky Derby
- Belmont Stakes
- Preakness Stakes
- Breeders’ Cup
- Royal Ascot
- Cheltenham Festival
- Travers Stakes
- Pacific Classic Stakes
- Haskell Invitational
- Dubai World Cup
- Melbourne Cup
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
- Grand National
Horse Race Tracks in Michigan
- Northville Downs
- Great Lakes Downs (closed in 2007)
- Pinnacle Race Course (closed in 2010)
- Mt. Pleasant (closed in 2013)
- Detroit Race Course (closed on 2018)
- Hazel Park Raceway (closed in 2018)
Only a single live-racing horse venue is still in operation in Michigan. Northville Downs typically conducts harness races on Fridays and Saturdays from early March to late June and again from early September through mid-December.
Sadly, no. The minimum age for online gambling and horse race betting is 21.
Yes, Michigan allows horse racing betting online and through mobile apps.
All major horse race betting sites like TwinSpires.com, TVG.com, NYRABETS.com, and Xpressbet.com operate in Michigan. Some smaller online operators and betting apps, such as AmWager.com and Hollywoodraces.com, also accept bets on horses from state residents.