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LANSING, MI-A decision on which Michigan city will get a racino must wait at least a month. The outgoing Michigan racing commissioner, Robert Geake, says he will not award the lone metropolitan Detroit racing license before he leaves office Dec. 31, and Gov. Jennifer Granholm has not named Geake’s replacement.

Citing the “magnitude of the decision,” Geake says he would leave the decision to his successor. “Since the passage of Proposal I in Michigan, the applicants for the one remaining Detroit-area track license have amended their applications, essentially downsizing or delaying their original proposals,” Geake says. “These amended applications will require more analysis and investigation than can be completed in my remaining [time] in office. Therefore, I have reluctantly concluded that it will be most prudent to leave the final decision to the incoming commissioner.”

Michigan voters approved a ballot measure in the November election which requires both statewide as well as local approval for any gambling expansion, likely effectively killing the racino concept. Many considered the racino idea as a savior for Michigan’s horse racing industry.

Of the four applicants for the metro license, the most severely affected by Geake’s decision, or lack of one, is Magna Entertainment Corp., which operates Michigan’s only live thoroughbred track at Great Lakes Downs in Muskegon. Magna has proposed to build Michigan Downs, a $100-million racing-entertainment complex in the Detroit suburb of Romulus, and it is the only applicant that has promised to move forward without slot machines. Magna has obtained all the permits necessary for the project, but officials said last week that if granted the license, construction would not begin until 2007.

A spokeswoman for Granholm says no timetable has been set for naming a new racing commissioner. “Clearly the appointment of a racing commissioner is one of several appointments pending in front of the governor, but realistically, I wouldn’t expect to hear anything [on the appointment] until after the first of the year,” she adds.

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