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Greyhound Racing Ends in New England; Opponents Focus on Florida

This time last year, we had a cover story about Jailamony, a greyhound with a broken leg, and the national fight over greyhound racing. While Florida, with 13 tracks, remains the mecca of dog racing in this country, other states continue banning live racing.

Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri signed legislation Friday allowing betting parlors in that state to end dog racing, meaning greyhound racing is over in all of New England.

Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine each outlawed dog racing in the past couple of years. It ended for financial reasons in New Hampshire, and the state Senate recently voted to make live racing illegal. Connecticut's last greyhound track closed in 2006.

Now dog racing opponents -- namely GREY2K USA, an Massachusetts-based antiracing lobby -- are more focused than ever on bringing the fight to Florida.

"GREY2K USA will now now intensify its efforts to close down the 13 dog tracks of Florida," Christine Dorchak, president of GREY2K, told me. "This is a truly proud day for greyhound advocates all across the country. Dog racing could not end soon enough in New England. We've worked for ten years to close down the dog tracks of New England. This is the moment that the dogs have been waiting for."

In Florida, for casinos like Mardi Gras in Hallandale Beach and Magic City Casino (formerly Flagler) in Miami to have slot machines and poker rooms, they must host live dog races for nearly half the year. A bill in the Florida Senate would have ended that requirement, but the amendment addressing greyhound racing was struck from the bill before a vote.

Local casinos actually received a large tax cut. Meanwhile, revenues from dog racing continue to decline.

Even the trainers whom I spoke with last year agreed that the industry is doomed. Most of the current trainers just hope the end comes after they've retired.

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Michael J. Mooney

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