Greyhound racing is illegal in 39 states, and waning interest and profits have shuttered racing in four others. In most of the places where it continues, track operators want lawmakers to boost or continue to boost their businesses.
Here is a look at the seven states with live greyhound racing:
Two tracks, one in Birmingham and the other just outside Mobile, hold live racing year-round. Each is regulated by a county racing commission rather than the state. The tracks are not required to report greyhound injuries.
Mobile Greyhound Park is owned by the Poarch Creek Indian tribe’s gambling arm, which also runs three casinos in Alabama and the Pensacola Greyhound Track and Poker Room in Florida’s Panhandle.
The state’s lone track, Tucson Greyhound Park, holds live racing year-round.
In May, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill that requires the track to report dog injuries to the Arizona Department of Racing, effective this month.
Southland Park in West Memphis, adjacent to Memphis, Tennessee, opened in 1956. The state’s only track is among the nation’s largest, with capacity to kennel about 2,000 greyhounds and an average of 6,000 races a year, many with nine dogs per field.
Southland Park Racing and Gaming — the facility now includes a casino — answers to the Arkansas Racing Commission, which also oversees horse tracks. As is standard at horse tracks, an on-site commission veterinarian examines dogs that are pulled from a race due to injury and decides when they can return to racing.
The birthplace of greyhound wagering in the U.S. nearly 90 years ago, Florida has a dozen of the nation’s 21 active dog tracks. This spring, the Florida Legislature rejected a bill that would have ended the requirement that dog tracks hold races on-site in order to keep their gambling permits for casino-style games.
Lawmakers then considered and eventually also turned down a measure to require tracks to report all dog injuries to the state. Reporting greyhound deaths became mandatory for Florida tracks last year.
In May, Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill that will shutter Bluffs Run Greyhound Park, part of a Horseshoe casino complex in Council Bluffs, by 2016. The compromise law, similar to the one that failed to pass in Florida, will allow the Iowa Greyhound Association to continue operating a track at the Mystique Casino in Dubuque.
The new law also requires casinos that have long-subsidized the dog racing tracks to pay $72 million to seed a retirement fund for dog owners and breeders and to help fund the association’s effort to operate the races.
The two tracks report to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which also oversees horse tracks. Animals’ injuries must be reported to the state.
Gulf Greyhound Park near Galveston is the state’s only track with live racing, though two other tracks that normally only offer simulcast racing have recently been allowed to hold brief, one-time-only meets. The tracks report dog injuries to the Texas Racing Commission.
While the tracks do not offer slot machines, operators are asking the commission for the OK to install slots-style devices that show video of old races and allow bettors to wager on those. The commission could rule next month.
Of the state’s four racetrack casinos, two run horses and two run greyhounds. Animals’ injuries must be reported to the West Virginia Racing Commission.
Under pressure from recently opened gambling sites in neighboring states, operators of one of the tracks asked lawmakers last year to slash their licensing fees for table games and reduce the minimum number of days of live racing. The proposal didn’t pass, and this year, Gov. Ray Tomblin signed a bill that cut subsidies to horse and greyhound breeders by 10 percent.
Sources: Racing commissions, racetracks, American Greyhound Council, Grey2K, AP research.
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