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Politics / Issues

Casinos Out Of Reach For The Year, Senate Focus Turns To Greyhound

Credit Wikimedia Creative Commons

The Florida Senate's Select Committee on Gaming makes its last stand in Tallahassee Tuesday with a couple of bills that could end greyhound racing in the Sunshine State. It's the only issue that still remains within the committee's grasp.

For gambling expansion, the writing has been on the wall for some time. There's no legislative agreement on how or even if to allow resort casinos in the state. And talks on preserving the state's critical gambling relationship with the Seminoles have yet to yield a new agreement. Committee chairman Garrett Richter broke the news to his Senate colleagues late last week.

Reaching consensus on a 400-page gaming reform bill just is not in the cards.

But Richter said there is still one more job for his committee and it will be tackled this week.

We need to keep finding a graceful transition away from greyhound racing.

Once a popular betting and spectator pastime in Florida, dog racing has been in steady decline. It hangs on mostly because of a laws that requires dog racing at tracks that also offer slot machines and card rooms…and in spite of persistent reports that the dogs are neglected and abused. Before Richter's committee this week is one bill by Democrat Maria Sachs that would allow operators to end dog racing but still keep their slots and card tables. And there's another that requires reporting when racing dogs are injured. Sponsor Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat, says the dogs should not be raced.

By looking at the number of injuries, we will see how they can be kept safe.

According to Sobel's data, 95 dogs died in the 10 months that began in May of last year. Seven states still allow greyhound racing. Of the 24 tracks still operating in the U-S, 13 of them are in Florida.

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