Greyhound Racing Ending In Florida, Alabama
The Florida Greyhound Association has asked state gambling regulators to reconsider their decision to allow Miami’s Magic City Casino to discontinue live dog racing. The association’s “motion to intervene” stated ending racing at Magic City “will put its members out of business. The purpose is to forever end greyhound racing at the track. Many members are family owned businesses that have raced greyhounds at the race track for generations.”
Last month, in a first-of-its-kind ruling, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling through its Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, approved a request from the Havenick family to drop dog racing at its Miami facility. Under Florida law, parimutuels that want to offer lucrative slots and card games also must offer money-losing live dog or horse races. The racetracks want lawmakers to decouple live races from other forms of gambling, but proposed bill have failed in the legislature.
Former Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp, the association’s general counsel, drafted the motion. It claims the state incorrectly allowed the track and casino to convert its gambling license to a summer jai alai permit, so it can end racing but continue to offer slot machine play. “There appears to be no showing that Magic City meets the statutory qualifications to convert their permit to summer jai alai since it is now the only greyhound race track operating in Miami,” the motion said. It adds, “it cannot be said that the legislature intended to allow for the conversion of a parimutuel permit to a summer jai alai permit at a facility that operates slot machines.”
In 2004, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing slots at existing jai alai frontons and horse and dog racetracks in Miami-Dade and Broward counties if the issue passed in referendums, in return for continuing to offer live races.
In neighboring Alabama, live dog races will end at the Mobile Greyhound Park at the end of August. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which purchased a 65 percent controlling interest in the track for $10 million in 2009, said the reasons were declining interest, prohibitive state gaming laws and decreasing revenue. The PCI Gaming Authority stated, “In 1991 there were 62 active greyhound tracks unsupported by other forms of gaming. Today, Mobile Greyhound Park is only one of two.”
Mobile Greyhound Park offered both live dog races and simulcast dog and horse races since 1973. The track will continue to offer simulcasts, PCI officials said. It has not been able to supplement the lost revenue because most other forms of gaming are illegal in Alabama. The state racing commission collects 7 percent of the proceeds from live races and 2 percent of proceeds from simulcast races. In the past that generated annual tax revenues of up to $8 million, but that figure has dropped dramatically over the past 25 years.
PCI officials also said 30 employees will be impacted, but the company was “fully prepared to assist each team member with locating and applying for opportunities at other Wind Creek Hospitality facilities including Pensacola Greyhound Park and Wind Creek Casino and Hotel in Atmore.” At the state racing commission, eight full-time employees currently work as coordinators, race inspectors and race judges.
PCI officials said they will help kennel owners with the relocation, adoption and ongoing care for approximately 400 greyhounds associated with the racetrack. Some may be moved to other tracks around the U.S. “We routinely place over 600 greyhounds each year through Mobile Greyhound Pet Adoption Kennel, and we have relationships with approximately a dozen other adoption agencies across the country that will help with placement. We have implemented a program which will support kennels with care, feeding, housing and veterinary services while each greyhound is matched to a suitable new environment,” the officials said.
Those interested in adopting a greyhound may contact the Mobile Greyhound Pet Adoption Kennel, (251) 653- 5000, Extension 102, for more details.