At a time when nearly 40 states ban greyhound racing, largely for humane reasons, it seems upside down that any state would actually mandate the practice. Yet that’s exactly what Florida does.
Florida’s live-racing mandate requires racetracks to conduct a certain number of greyhound races if they want to continue to conduct casino-style gambling. But in fact, gamblers cluster inside buildings, playing card games and slot machines, while the grandstands that overlook a racing oval are almost empty of spectators as a pack of greyhounds hurtle around the track.
For years, many legislators have tried to align Florida with the rest of the nation, or at least to “decouple” greyhound races and casino-style racing. When the free market operates in place of state-mandated racing, most of the dog racing will dissipate, largely because so few people are interested in it. It’s not the state’s role to prop up this animal-based industry when so few people are willing to pay for it. Even many greyhound track owners are lobbying for a “decoupling” bill, largely because they lose millions on the dog races.
The dogs, of course, lose more than that. We know that, on average, a greyhound dies on a Florida track every three days. Florida is one of only six states where greyhound racing still exists and it has 12 out of the 19 tracks in the country. Wagering on dog racing has dropped for 20 years in a row.
The era of greyhound racing has passed, and it’s time lawmakers, greyhound breeders, and others in the industry accept that reality. It is foolish to keep alive an industry that is not only betting on the lives of innocent animals, but one that is actually costing Florida more dollars than it makes. If you live in the state, urge your lawmakers to pass this bill that would help end the suffering of dogs for a “sport” that no one is even watching.