Bill seeks to decouple greyhound racing from gambling

By Troy Kinsey, Capitol Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Florida has more greyhound dog tracks than any other state, which may be due to a law that requires dog racing at parimutuel casinos.

Some lawmakers say that law is inhumane and needs to be repealed. A new bill making its way through Tallahassee would let casinos close their dog tracks but continue to operate slot machines and table games. 

In the last seven months of 2013, 74 racing greyhounds died in Florida, some from heat stroke, others from being trampled by competing dogs during a race.

Derby Lane in Pinellas County and the Daytona Beach Kennel Club each reported 12 greyhound deaths between May and Decmber.

That's why the greyhound protection group Grey2K is calling on the Legislature to pass the so-called "decoupling" bill.

The lawmakers behind it argue there's only one reason the greyhound racing requirement exists.

"Let's be honest about the fact that the only reason we have greyhound racing in the state of Florida is that our laws require parimutuel facilities to engage in this barbaric practice simply to keep their licenses," Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said. "It doesn't make any sense."

The greyhound industry is opposing the bill, warning that thousands of dogs could become homeless if the state's tracks were to close.

Industry representatives say the dogs are pampered by trained veterinarians before and after the races.