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Tag: gambling

The fading future of greyhound racing

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Fifteen years ago, more than 400 people attended the national convention of the American Greyhound Track Owners Association.

This year’s convention, in Las Vegas, is expected to draw 120, the Las Vegas Sun reports — yet another sign that greyhound racing’s days are numbered.

More than half of the nation’s greyhound tracks have closed for lack of business in the past three decades, four in just the past year. 

The recession, competition from casinos, state legislatures increasing gambling taxes and public opposition to the sport have combined to threaten the future of dog racing, but the industry’s downfall can be traced to the 1980s and 1990s when state lotteries were introduced and casinos began to spread beyond Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Wagering on greyhound races in the United States declined from $3.5 billion in 1991 to $1.1 billion in 2007, according to the Association of Racing Commissioners.

The continued decline in dog racing has become even more painful for casino owners who are required to subsidize the tracks as a condition of operating casinos with slot machines.

As Roy Berger, executive vice president of the Dairyland Greyhound Park in Wisconsin, which closed last year, put it: “The product became an antique. We were an 8-track cassette store in a world of CDs.”

(Photo: American Greyhound Track Owners Association)

Last lap for greyhound racing in New England

More than 3,000 people poured into Raynham Park over the weekend for the final day of live greyhound racing at the 69-year-old park, its last day in Massachusetts and, possibly, its last day in all of New England.

The end of greyhound racing in in Massachusetts is the result of a public referendum — 56 percent of voters favored banning the so-called sport —  and part of a national trend driven by a mix of animal-rights concerns and declining track attendance, according to the Boston Globe.

Raynham Park staged its final race Saturday night.

Live dog racing has also ceased in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and, temporarily at least, Rhode Island. It continues at 23 tracks in seven states, 13 of them in Florida, according to the anti-dog racing organization GREY2K USA, which formed in 2001. At that time there were 49 tracks in 15 states.

“I just thank Massachusetts voters for giving greyhounds a second chance,’’ Christine A. Dorchak, president of GREY2K USA. “We have finally reached this wonderful day.’’

Many of the dogs, maintained by a network of kennels, will move on to race in other states, but several hundred will be looking for new homes. Raynham is working with GREY2K and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center to aid their adoption.

“People who voted to end dog racing should step forward now and take a dog home,’’ Dorchak said. “This is the happy ending we all worked for, and these dogs make wonderful pets.’’

For the first six months of 2010, the track will remain open for simulcasting, where patrons bet on horse and dog races from across the country shown live on closed-circuit televisions.

Greyhound racing is done in Wisconsin

Greyhound racing is nearing the finish line in Wisconsin.

Dairyland Greyhound Park, in Kenosha — the last operating track in the state –  announced Tuesday it will close its doors after racing ends Dec. 31.

Dairyland was one of five Wisconsin tracks that opened after a 1987 amendment to the state constitution allowed for a state-run lottery and legalized parimutuel betting. The others closed earlier, unable to compete with the state’s tribal casino offerings that began to emerge in the 1990s.

According to the Kenosha News, the 19-year-old track has lost $17 million over the last seven years.

Dairyland has remained in operation in recent years with the hope that the Menominee Nation wins federal and state approval to develop a $1 billion casino complex on the site. The tribe is now in litigation to overturn a January denial of the project.

Closing the track will put about 180 people out of work, and, track officials say, leave the 900 dogs that race at the facility in need of homes.

If you’re interest in adopting, here’s how to find a greyhound rescue near you.

Alabama tribe seeks to buy dog tracks

mobileThe Poarch Band of Creek Indians has purchased controlling interests of dog racing tracks in Mobile and Pensacola, according to at least one racing official.

The purchase still requires approval by the National Indian Gaming Association, according to Al.com.

The tribe owns two casinos in Alabama — the Riverside Entertainment Center in Wetumpka and the Tallapoosa Entertainment Center in Montgomery.

Gov. Bob Riley has been strongly against gambling in Alabama throughout his two terms, and has stirred controversy in recent months with his opposition to so-called bingo machines. Riley’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling has confiscated a number of gambling machines.

The tribe had long been one of the primary opponents of allowing gambling machines at the dog tracks in Mobile and Pensacola.

Rhode Island clinging to greyhound racing

As Rhode Island debates the fate of its only greyhound racing track, an advocacy group is planning a weekend rally calling for an end to the sport in the state, the Associated Press reports.

The group GREY2K USA, a chief proponent of a successful ballot question in Massachusetts last year to ban greyhound racing at the state’s two tracks, is planning a Saturday rally in Providence to urge Rhode Islanders to ban the sport as well.

The Massachusetts ban takes effect in January. And New Hampshire’s two remaining tracks plan to end live racing.

“The handwriting is on the wall, and it makes little sense for lawmakers to stand up and buck this trend,” said Christine Dorchak, president and general counsel of the organization.

In Rhode Island the debate has focused more on the sport’s profitability rather than on the treatment of dogs.  Legislators awant to expand greyhound racing. Over the objection of Gov. Don Carcieri, lawmakers have moved to force a bankrupt, state-licensed slot parlor to run 200 days of live racing at its greyhound track even though current law only requires 125.

Carcieri, a Republican, vetoed the legislation, but lawmakers in the Democratic-dominated General Assembly say they expect to override it. Supporters of the dog racing bill say it’s necessary to save 225 jobs, including pari-mutuel clerks, bartenders and security workers, and preserve tax revenue. They also argue the public shouldn’t be penalized for what they say are the bad business decisions of the owners of the gambling parlor, called Twin River.

Greyhound races bite dust in New Hampshire

greyhoundGreyhound racing appears headed for an end in New Hampshire.

The state’s two dog racing tracks won permission yesterday to drop all racing dates.

Paul Kelley, executive director of the state Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission said commissioners approved applications from both the Lodge at Belmont and Seabrook Greyhound Park to cease dog racing and operate solely as simulcast betting centers, and as host to charitable gambling events, the Union Leader reported.

The move comes as a new state budget bill  takes effect July 1, allowing tracks to drop their live racing and continue simulcast wagering. The decision could be the end of greyhound racing in the state. A third track, in Hinsdale, closed late last year.

Rick Newman, who represents the Belmont track said the decision was a financial one. “It costs a lot more money to run live racing than we get from it,” he said.

The Grey2K USA group, which fought to end greyhound racing, said the budget bill removed the last reason for tracks to continue dog racing.

Giant dogfighting ring broken up in Texas

Texas officials have begun making arrests in an investigation into what authorities describe as one of the largest dogfighting rings in the country.

Eight people were arrested and 187 dogs were seized Friday — all part of what was called a sophisticated dogfighting ring involving a network of bettors and fight organizers throughout eastern Texas.

According to the New York Times, 55 people were indicted after an undercover investigation that lasted 17 months. Officials said the network’s dogfights drew crowds of up to 100 people, who placed tens of thousands of dollars in wagers on a single fight.

“This was a large-scale, highly organized operation,” said Lisa Block, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

It was not uncommon for a gambler to put $500 to $1,000 down on the matches, which took place several times a month in secluded parts of Harris County, law enforcement officials said.

Ring members invited only people they knew to the fights, but undercover agents from the state police infiltrated the group to gather evidence and even managed to videotape some of the matches, officials said. The investigation started after troopers received a tip from someone in another state about the fights.

Most of the dogs seized were pit bull mixes.

During raids to seize the animals, state troopers also found firearms, marijuana, cocaine and stolen property, the authorities said. But the indictments charged the defendants only with engaging in dogfights, a felony that carries up to two years in prison, or misdemeanor charges of being a spectator at a dogfight, which carries up to a year in jail, the Times reported.