Greyhound Racing Nears Extinction As U.S. States Ban Races, Wagering

May 28, 2024
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Across the United States, the prominence and popularity of greyhound racing has declined steadily over the last 30 years as more states prohibit the ability to conduct and wager on races, leaving West Virginia as the only state with operating tracks.
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Across the United States, the prominence and popularity of greyhound racing has declined steadily over the last 30 years as more states prohibit the ability to conduct and wager on races, leaving West Virginia as the only state with operating tracks.

Connecticut this month became the 46th state to ban live greyhound racing after Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, signed a bill to permanently ban the sport.

There have been no active greyhound tracks in Connecticut since the closure of Playfield Greyhound Park and Shoreline Star Greyhound Park in 2005, but lawmakers and animal advocates sought to have the sports permanently banned. 

Lamont described dog racing as a “cruel activity”.

“It’s mindboggling to think that at one time people considered this a legitimate sport, and I give credit to animal advocacy groups for their activism that has raised awareness about the abuse and extreme conditions these dogs face, leading to bans in nearly every state across the country,” Lamont said.

The new legislation, Public Act 24-1, takes effect on October 1, 2024.

The legislation enjoyed bipartisan support in the Connecticut General Assembly.

“While there has not been an active dog racetrack in the state since 2005, it is important that Connecticut state unequivocally [ensures] this practice will not return,” said Representative Mike D’Agostino, a Democrat. 

“And if nothing else, we have removed from the general statutes pages and pages of unnecessary regulations that have not been needed for 20 years, and now will not be needed again.”

“It took a bit longer than we hoped to get this important, common-sense bill passed but that effort was absolutely worth it knowing that from this day forward dogs in Connecticut will be safe from being forced to endure dangerous and inhumane treatment in the name of sport,” added Republican Representative Nicole Klarides-Ditria.

Since 2018, lawmakers in Arkansas, Florida and Oregon have also banned live greyhound racing.

Florida voters approved Amendment 13 in 2018 that phased out racing in the state in January 2021. Commercial greyhound racing in Florida was first legalized in 1931.

In October 2019, Southland Racing Corporation and the Arkansas Greyhound Kennel Association announced a deal to phase out live racing at the West Memphis track by December 31, 2022.

Meanwhile, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1504 in March 2022 to outlaw dog racing in Oregon.

Currently, dog racing in the U.S. is only operational at two tracks: Wheeling Island Casino & Racetrack and Mardi Gras Casino & Resort, both in West Virginia.

Federal lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives also introduced HR 3894, the Greyhound Protection Act, in June of last year to amend the Animal Welfare Act to ban greyhound racing in the U.S. and make gambling on greyhound racing illegal.

The bill would also outlaw simulcast wagering on greyhound races and prohibit the transport and sale of greyhounds across state lines for the purpose of racing. 

HR 3894 was referred to the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry by the House Committee on Agriculture in July 2023, but it still has not received a hearing.

Simulcasting of races at pari-mutuel wagering facilities across the U.S. depends on the existence of active dog tracks in West Virginia and at international racetracks in the United Kingdom and Mexico. Some states have eliminated simulcast betting on greyhounds, with Kansas and Massachusetts passing prohibitions in 2022.

Colorado, which banned live greyhound racing in 2014, also banned simulcast wagering on dog races in 2023, with the ban set to become effective on October 1, 2024.

It was a similar situation in New Hampshire, where the state outlawed greyhound racing 14 years ago but left in place a loophole that allowed for remote gambling on races. That loophole will close on January 1, 2027, after Republican Governor Chris Sununu this month signed Senate Bill 363 to prohibit simulcast betting on dog races.

Lawmakers in Oregon have been unsuccessful in passing a ban on simulcast wagering on greyhound races.

The state is used as a hub to process most of the online wagering on greyhounds and horses in the U.S., which includes wagers on races at tracks overseas.

However, as fewer states allow for simulcast wagering on races and live races, Connie Winn, executive director of the Oregon Racing Commission (ORC), told Vixio GamblingCompliance that state officials “expect to see continued decline in greyhound wagering”.

In 2023, more than $86.7m was wagered on greyhounds by advance deposit wagering operators overseen by the ORC, bringing in some $72,548 in revenue to the state. Overall, total pari-mutuel wagering handle in Oregon was $6.63bn in 2023.

Oregon has already banned live greyhound racing. In 2022, the state also prohibited operators from accepting bets on greyhound races from other locations where greyhound racing is illegal.

Introduced earlier this year, House Bill 4051 would go one step further by taking Oregon completely out of the business of processing any greyhound wagers. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Gambling Regulation but never received a committee vote during the 2024 legislative session. 

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