Guest column: Live greyhound racing is good for Florida, good for the greyhounds

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By Jack Cory

Public affairs representative

Florida Greyhound Association

Some Florida greyhound track operators want to eliminate live greyhound racing so that they can expand gambling and create 13 casinos around the state.

But there is no such thing as “decoupling,” a public relations phrase invented by some greyhound track operators and their allies, a cult-like Massachusetts-based group that wants to prohibit greyhound racing.

Eliminating live greyhound racing in Florida would put more than 8,000 beautiful greyhounds and thousands of Florida jobs at risk.

The people of Florida voted for live greyhound tracks. If anyone wants to reduce or eliminate live greyhound racing, then let the people of Florida vote on it and let the people in each of the 13 communities with a greyhound track also vote on it in a general election.

Today more than 95 percent of all racing greyhounds are adopted or are returned to the farm to live out their lives. This is the standard that the “no kill” movement is trying to get all of our local animal shelters to reach.

We need to stop injuries to greyhounds now. We do not need more reports to be used for political and fund-raising purposes by GREY2K, the Massachusetts group.

The Florida Legislature needs to improve greyhound safety by giving the Department of Business and Professional Regulation clear statutory authority and to require all greyhound tracks to maintain a proper track surface. The University of Florida Veterinarian School could help in developing these standards.

The Legislature should require all tracks to install a safety device to remove the lure arm from the racing surface via remote control similar to the redhound racing safety device that has been 100 percent successful in avoiding injuries. It should also require all Florida greyhound tracks to insulate the cooper bus bar in the center of the track that currently exposes 240 volts to man and animals. Can you even imagine that we have 240 volts exposed to man and animals in this day?

While some of Florida’s smaller tracks have closed in recent years, greyhound racing is still very much alive and well. In fact, live attendance and wagering at Florida’s greyhound racetracks increased in 2013. Florida leads the nation for live greyhound racing in both attendance and in wagering.

The Florida Legislature commissioned an independent gambling impact study, which found that there is a loophole in Florida’s parimutuel law called advance deposit wagering. It allows patrons to wager on racing — greyhound and horses — electronically. Patrons establish an account with an out-of-state advance deposit wagering company and deposit money into the account prior to making any wagers. They can then place wagers from a computer, a home telephone or even a mobile phone. It is taking place in Florida today and could be costing the State of Florida and its citizens $50 million to $100 million in current taxes.

The Florida Legislature should order the Department of Business and Professional Regulations to conduct a forensic audit of any and all Florida parimutuel facilities that own or control directly or indirectly an out-of-state advanced deposit wagering facility to be sure the state is getting all the revenue that is owed under current law.

Live greyhound racing is good for Florida and good for the greyhounds.

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