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Senate committee votes to tighten parimutuel loopholes and free the racing dogs

For the second year in a row, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee narrowly approved a bill to allow Florida's 16 remaining dog tracks to stop racing greyhounds and allow their facilities to operate only card rooms or slots casinos.

The bill, by Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Boca Raton, gives each dog track the option of operating live racing and closes loopholes that have allowed the proliferation of other pari-mutuel permits by opening the door to a barrel racing track in Gretna and a summer jai alai permit for the owners of Magic City Casino.

"Those tracks that wish to continue to race will race,'' Sachs said. "It will be dictated by the market."

But, opponents said, the bill also gives the parimutuel industry free rein to use $7 million in existing tax credits to prop up their dying industry.

"It's just wrong to go ahead and say what got them the license because of dogs and now say, from a business standpoint, they don't want to race dog anymore,'' said Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole.

The committee rejected an amendment by Jones that would have ended the tax credit the pari-mutuels receive if they fail to run live races. Under Sachs bill, passed by a 6-4 vote, each of the state's greyhound tracks would be allow to keep the $350,000 to $500,000 in annual tax credits and transfer their gambling permit to another location within each county, as long as it doens't impact another horse or dog track or jai alai fronton within 50 miles.

The committee also attempted to close the loopholes in existing state law,

The bill is heavily favored by animal rights advocates, who want to see Florida dismantle the industry and see the bill as the first step to do it.

Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera, said he opposed the bill because he believes that voters were asked to authorize dog racing and should be asked if they want to take it away.

 

 

Comments

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John Balzer

The article says it all when it says "prop up their dying industry" Still, I'm glad the lawmakers are still plugging away in Tallahassee unlike other articles have insinuated lately. It is vital to get the casino bill passed to restore jobs, our tax base and rescue our economy.

Jarvis Jones

The Florida legislators have a monumental task ahead of them pleasing all the lobbyists from opposing side who donated money to campaign funds and the RNC/DNC Florida. I bet in the end, they pass all the casino legislation because ultimately, it's the only thing that will save Florida.

Christine Dorchak

Join the campaign to end dog racing in Florida:

http://www.grey2kusa.org/action/states/fl.html

Yvonne Gurbada

Find out the real truth behind the movement to kill the mandate of live racing in Florida. Visit the http://www.flagreyhound.com/ - It is time for sensible people to make informed decision - not animal rights extremists who have no family traditions or financial responsibility in the industry!

Cyndi Rennick

I am a constituent of Dennis Jones and frankly, I am ashamed to be. Sen. Jones has forgotten what his job is, and that is to speak for the people he was elected to serve, not to serve the dog breeding lobbyists.

He really needs to wake up and pay attention to what the people in his district want. What they don't want is more of the same; politicians scratching each others backs for favors, and that is clearly what he is trying to do when he attempts to keep this bill from passing.

De-coupling dog racing and gambling makes sense for the dogs and for the tracks and it's time has come. It is some of the most intelligent legislation Tallahassee has seen in years.

Mr Jones, your constituents care about greyhounds... not about the big money breeders who simply breed them, then use them for a short time, then discard these beautiful and sensitive dogs when they are no longer profitable.

You should be ashamed. You are most definitely NOT speaking for me with this backwards thinking. And that is your biggest sin of all.

Joyce C.

Regarding Senator Altman's opposition to this bill...residents...VOTERS...in each area have already "voted" on greyhound racing: with dwindling track attendance. They voted with their pocketbooks and with their declining interest in this "sport" and that's the strongest vote there could be. Give these dogs a chance at a normal life and pass this bill!

dog food

The HSUS works on so many stages, saving animals in crisis, but also working to prevent cruelty―whether that’s changing corporate behavior, educating the public, or improving the legal framework for animals.

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