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The Real Deal on Gambling and Greyhound and Horse Racing

I try check the blog for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida weekly, as I do live in Florida and they appear to be the only group that goes beyond cats and dogs and, of course, wants to banish greyhound racing. The August 15th post had me perplexed, as it asked "Should anti-dog racing activists embrace slots and poker?"

The conclusion was:

If dog tracks make more money with cardrooms, slot machines and video-lottery games, it is inevitable that they will curb live racing or eliminate it entirely. That would be a significant blow to greyhound racing kennels, and would decrease the number of dogs that are bred– and killed– by the racing industry.

I posted a comment three times and nothing registered, so I’m left to do it here. (And you should be aware of this anyway.) I contacted Christine Dorchak, Esq., President of Grey2k USA because I was certain–and I’ve been writing about this for nearly a year–that card rooms and slots are a way to prop up the greyhound racing industry, and wherever we see them on a ballot we should vote against their introduction.

Here’s her reply, and she asks that it be cross posted widely:

Dear Mary,

I ask that you join me in opposing any expansion of gambling at live racetracks.  In states where tracks have been awarded slot machines, high stakes poker or any other new gambling right, the implications for our fight to end racing are completely destructive. 

There is an assumption that with the coming of slots, the dogs (or horses) disappear.  This is not the case. The pari-mutuel law in Florida and nationwide sets a statutory minimum, designating the  number of races that must be held in order for a track to remain open.  In plain English, this means that the animals must run in order for track owners to layer their initial "racing product" with other gambling opportunities.  Slots and high stakes poker seal in live racing, they do not usher it out. [Emphasis mine.]

In West Virginia, where Wheeling Downs and Tri-State both won approval for slots machines years ago, the poor dogs continue to run in circles around unkept, dangerous tracks while patrons in other parts of the facilities treat themselves to a fancy meal and a night of chance.  The glamour and lights of the casino as compared  to the abandoned track setting is stunning.

In Rhode Island, where Sol Kerzner and his South African apartheid-era partners recently bought the embattled dog track for a song, Lincoln Park has now become a gigantic gambling enterprise called Twin Rivers. Meanwhile, the dogs continue to live in tiny cages and from time to time run in circles surrounded by near-empty grandstands. 

As in West Virginia, the handle (the dollar amount of bets made) at Twin Rivers does not matter because, by law, the kennel operators (or dog men as they call themselves) automatically get a statutory percentage of all slots profits.  It does not matter if their dogs win or lose, they receive millions of dollars just for "being there" when the slots came.  {A nice amount of this money is "invested" each year in electoral campaigns to keep doubting lawmakers at bay about this strange profit-sharing agreement.}

Perhaps the best example of the danger of slot machines for animals is drawn from recent activities in  Kansas.  Slot machines were just approved by the state legislature this Spring, and as soon as the news hit, the first party to react was the long-shuttered Camptown dog track. After remaining closed for almost a dozen years, it decided to reopen in order to get a piece of the action, and lay claim to thousands of slot machines.  Now, a minimum of one thousand (1,000) more dogs will be born and bred each year to serve as  platforms for video lottery terminals.  Conversely, Wichita Greyhound Park, which lost its pitch for local authorization of slot machines, immediately announced its closure.

Every greyhound advocate who receives this e-mail should work to prevent dog tracks from  propping themselves up with slots or anything else. This is the life support that these ailing facilities need.

Thanks for caring about the dogs!


I hope that settles it. Gambling = bad for greyhounds.

How about those ears on my boy Charles, by the way! And yes, those are tattoos on the insides of his ears. That’s how the dogs are identified. Oh, and if someone wants them to be unidentifiable, that person cuts the dog’s ears off.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. eryll #

    omg that boyo has a pair of ears! loved the pic of violet rays in earlier post… how are her eyes?

    August 30, 2007
  2. violet's glaucoma is under control, for now, her diabetes is regulated, and the retina in her left eye is almost completely detached, but the right one is intact.

    she went to the beach yesterday and galloped and leaped and pranced as the waves rushed onto her feet. she was in heaven, as was charles, who chased the water and tried to catch it with his front legs.

    next time, i'm bringing the camera . . .

    August 30, 2007
  3. Deb #

    Thanks so much for this post. It is great information and a real eye-opener.

    August 30, 2007
  4. I just recently edited a book on gambling in the United States, so I've read a bit about this, and you–and Ms. Dorchak–are, of course, exactly right. The addition and subsequent expansion of slots and other forms of gambling at the tracks absolutely supports rather than deters greyhound racing.

    The members of our household–rescued racer Ella included–thank you both for working so hard to educate people on this.

    August 30, 2007
  5. I agree with all that is said on this blog entry. I must also add that in my opinion, gambling would not only harm the greyhounds and horses, it also harms humans. I know of quite a few people whose families have been destroyed due to a gambling addiction. So even if the opposite was the case, and gambling would help greyhounds, I would still not campaign for it.

    August 31, 2007

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