10/09/2009 11:00PM

Michigan changes oversight of racing


In an executive order issued Thursday, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm abolished the Office of Racing Commissioner and placed the regulation of horse racing in the hands of the state's Gaming Control Board. The board's executive director, Richard Kalm, will take over the duties now performed by commissioner Paticia Lockwood on Jan. 17.

The gaming board was established in 1997 to oversee Detroit's three casinos, which were built after voters' approval in 1996.

"We feel that we are a better fit within the Department of Agriculture, that we are based in agriculture," said Gary Tinkle, the executive director of the state's HBPA. "We are concerned and certainly need to know more as we had no discussion with the powers that be in regard to this move."

Referring to the state's budget crisis he said, "I understand trying to cut the size of government, but I feel that we should have been consulted. We'll be the little guy at the gaming board and we don't know any of the individuals there, but hopefully, it will turn out to be in our best interest to be moved. We're just not comfortable with it at this time."

Tinkle said he hopes that a study to consider Instant Racing will move to the House floor in the state legislature this month. Instant Racing, an idea conceived by Oaklawn Park general manager Eric Jackson, is parimutuel in nature and thus may be available to Michigan tracks without needing approval in both a state and local election. Instant Racing, which involves betting on archived races, has boosted purses at Oaklawn.