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Committee unleashes greyhound racing from track gambling

Florida's greyhound track owners won another round in their quest to phase out the unprofitable elements of their greyhound racing operations. A bill to end the state requirement that they operate 100 live races a year in order to offer existing card games and slot machines passed the House House Business and Consumer Affairs Committee Tuesday. It had passed its first Senate committee last week.

Rep. Dana Young, the Tampa Repubilcan sponsoring the bill, said that since 1990 the amount of taxes the collected by state for greyhound racing has declined 96 percent. "We are reaching a point where it may cost more for [the Department of Business and Professional Regulation] to regulate this industry than the state collects in taxes from these industries,'' she said. "These numbers make it abundantly clear the public interest is waning…For us to create a false market for the dog breeding product at the expense of taxpayers simply makes no sense."

Although Young said that the bill "does not eliminate a single job" but instead allows the free market to decide, the lobbyist for the Greyhound Racing Association in Florida argued that the will effectively eliminate 3000 jobs. For example, he said, that includes 250 jobs in Hialeah; 275 in Palm Beach, 275 jobs in Tampa and St. Petersburg, 150 jobs in Brevard and 250 jobs in Jacksonville.

"In this economy I respectfully suggest it is not morally right to eleiminate 3000 jobs,'' he said.

Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, a West Palm Beach Democrat, said that he spoke to several of the largest track owners who say they are going to continue to operate their tracks and race as long as it remains profitable, they just don't want the state dictating how many races they run.

Gary Rutledge, a lobbyist representing the St. Petersburg Kennel Club and Hollywood's Mardi Gras Gaming agreed.

“This is an issue about whether or not businesses should be compelled to conduct activities which are unprofitable,'' he said. "There is not business in this state that I know of that wants to engage in a practice which loses money.” 

He told the committee that the bill will not "allow for any additional gaming activities" but instead will result in a "the reduction of greyhound racing in this state."

Animal rights activists commended the legislation, urging the committee to put an end to what Christine Dorchakshe of Grey2k called the cruel conditions for the dog, which are "kept in their cages all day."

Arizona and Iowa have also recently eliminated rules that require live racing at greyhound tracks and "we’d like to see florida end this cruelty as well,” she said.

Comments

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Sally Allen

Excellent! This action of letting the gaming industry make its own decicions as to what is
profitable and popular has been a long time coming! This is good news for the cards, slots, tables and certainly the greyhounds.

I hope to see this move along quickly.

John Alex

We are talking about DOG TRACKS. That is how it was sold to the public, that is how they were created and licensed. If they want to run casinos then they should get out of the dog track business and stand in line to try and open a casino.

Diana DiLoreto

I just cannot image breeding greyhounds to race, raising them in cages, and racing them around the track is a "job." 3000 jobs? Maybe the track employees at the bidding windows stand to lose their job, but hey, not the greyhound owners and kennels. Give up the dogs to families and let them be pets and find yourself something else to do...as already suggested, open a casino if gambling is in your blood.

Kimball

Yes, I think all dog racing should be eliminated!

"Folks will know how large your soul is by the way you treat a dog." -Charles Foran

Eric

The GRA lobbyist is wrong - this bill will not eliminate a single job, just as Rep. Young claimed. The market forces that have been driving down the profits of greyhound racing will cause tracks to close, and it will be those same market forces that will cause jobs in the industry to be lost. Those are the same market forces that have closed other businesses that did not have some artificial means of propping them up. There is nothing so special about greyhound racing that it should receive special consideration by the state to keep it going. Let it die a natural death.

If you're a kennel or track worker, start looking for a new job now, because your industry is dying and you're going to need to do something different. Maybe your next job won't involve the exploitation of animals.

Eric

John Alex pointed out these were dog tracks before they were gaming houses. You're right, but they were allowed to offer gaming because they couldn't keep operating with the declining revenue from racing. You should have made your argument back then, John. As Rep. Young pointed out, it's quickly approaching the point where maintaining greyhound racing is going to start costing the state money, and that's definitely a business Florida doesn't want to be in.

Bob

Arizona and Iowa have also recently eliminated rules that require live racing at greyhound tracks and "we’d like to see florida end this cruelty as well,” she said.
That is a lie. I live in Iowa & no rules have been eliminated in Iowa about not having to have live greyhound racing to have the slots at a race track.
Bob

Skip Tezyk

I hope they do away with this form of gambling. I am an owner of three former racers an the physical condition I received them in was deplorable. I have owned different kinds of dogs all my life and nothing compares to how these Greyhounds show their love and affection to me and my family. Racing them isn't so bad as most of them love to run. It is how they are treated off the track that is abominable. Dogs of any breed should never be put in the hands of somebody who does not know how to treat a living animal.

Lauren

As a conservative and an animal advocate, the state has no business MANDATING that dogs should have to race for tracks to be open to allow for other forms of gambling!

The dog tracks and animal advocates support this bill. It's only the Greyhound Racing Assn. that is opposed to it. If this bill passes, there will far less demand for them to BREED and their cash cow (the dogs) is gone!
It's all about the almighty dollar.

Please contact your state rep and state senator and ask them to support the bills the "decouple" dog racing! Find your elected officials at all levels at: www.vote-smart.org


Mike

I have adopted three racing greyhounds and they were treated horribly. Dog racing in Florida must end now! This decoupling bill will help save thousands of greyhound racing dog's lives.

Please support these bills in the FL house and senate!

Kristine Thompson

I had a friend in Califronia who had severeal dogs, he was a breeder and loved the racing aspect. I never saw any bad treatment of the animals on the contrary greyhounds and whippets where born to run.

As far as letting these states make their own decisions as far as gambling and what is legal and not I think many states can use any extra tax revenue they can right now.

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