Though greyhound racing in Florida pre-dates pro football, baseball, just about every other kind of entertainment, the dog tracks in Broward and Miami-Dade have been losing money on the moribund industry.
Dan Adkins, the president of the Mardi Gras Racetrack and Gaming Center in Hallandale Beach, recently told CBS4's Jim DeFede that his track will lose an estimated $2.5 million on the dogs this year. The Flagler dog track in Miami reportedly loses nearly $2 million a year.
Despite the economic hits, protests from national organizations, and pressure from local animal rights advocates, the tracks keep racing dogs. Why? Because state law requires them to in order to
maintain the parimutuel license that allows them to operate extremely lucrative slot machines and poker rooms. To have people inside gambling, casinos must have dogs outside racing, every day.
It's a law Adkins helped write more than a decade ago, to help keep dog racing alive in Florida.
For years, groups like the Massachusetts-based Grey2K USA have lobbied Florida legislators, asking them to remove the racing requirement and allow established casinos to keep gambling without running dogs. And for years, the dog racing industry lobby has fought decoupling legislation.
Now, Adkins and other track executives are joining Grey2K in asking the state to change the law forcing casino operators to run dogs. Representatives from the Florida Greyhound Association say that if track operators don't think they can turn a profit racing dogs, they should turn in their parimutuel licenses and let someone else try. But racing opponents now have on their side political momentum and a war chest of gambling profits in the hands of track officials who'd also prefer to stop racing.
Adkins made it clear his decision is purely financial. He said he's been around racing his entire life and doesn't find the industry cruel -- despite accounts like the news in October, about more than 30 greyhounds found starved to death in an Ebro trainer's kennel.
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