GREYHOUNDS

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1998:

Arkansas state representative Ben
McGee (D-Marion), 54, was indicted on
January 14 for allegedly taking $20,000 from
Southland Racing Corportation and $2,000
from Arkansas Greyhound Association president
Darby Henry and member Carroll Blair to
push bills favoring their interests. McGee was
also charged with allegedly extorting funds
from a suspected drug dealer, and with evading
taxes 1984-1988. Elected to the Arkansas
legislature in 1989, McGee receives just $1
per legislative paycheck because the balance
has been garnisheed in settlement of unpaid
taxes on beer sold by a liquor store he formerly
owned. His total tax debt, said the indictment,
is $511,177. Reported Noel E. Oman
of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “The
Southland track employed McGee from 1967
to 1977. His wife Rose also worked there,
most recently in 1991. His son Ben Jr. was
employed until recently by the Arkansas
Racing Commission as a judge at the track.


Southland gave McGee two tickets to
President Clinton’s second-term inauguration
in January 1997,” according to a disclosure
statement, which also revealed that McGee
apparently owes $5,555 in back child support
he was ordered to pay to Dr. Rosetta Calvin of
Little Rock in October 1996, for the care of a
son by Calvin named Travis McGee.
Kansas State University professor
Brad Fenwick has reportedly formed a “DNA
fingerprinting” system for greyhound breeders,
which will more reliably identify bloodlines
than the current tattoo system––and might also
be used to identify the remains of greyhounds
who turn up in fields and ditches after the
close of racing seasons with their tattoo-bearing
ears cut off, which might deter some
breeders and trainers from using it.
The St. Croix Meadows and
Geneva Lakes greyhound parks in
Wisconsin projected losses of $14.5 million
in 1997 and 1998, when applying to the state
Division of Gaming for 1998 race dates. The
third Wisconsin greyhound track, Dairyland,
expects 1998 profits of $330,000, but on
February 10 announced tentative sale to the
Menominee Nation, for $45 million. The
tribe is primarily interested in the Dairyland
casino, not the dog racing. All three tracks
are in mortgage debt of at least $18 million;
reportedly only Dairyland is still making regular
payments. Two other Wisconsin greyhound
tracks have closed in recent years.
Greyhound racing is to resume at
the Shoreline Star track in Bridgeport,
Connecticut, on March 20, after a hiatus of
almost a year due to financial reorganization.
Owner A. Robert Zeff is to personally assume
$27 million in losses, and directly pay creditors
$2.5 million. Holders of about $3.2 million
in unsecured debt will receive approximately
25¢ per dollar they are owed.
Combined revenue from live horse
and dog racing in New Hampshire fell from
$1.5 million in 1996 to $970,000 in 1997. Of
total track income of $4.1 million, $3.1 million
came via simulcasting.
Live betting at the Dubuque
Greyhound Park & Casino reportedly rose
5% in 1997, but bets on simulcast races from
other tracks dropped 4%. Simulcasting
accounts for about two-thirds of the Dubuque
facility’s greyhound racing revenue.
The British greyhound racing
industry, waning for about 40 years, claimed
track attendance and live TV viewership were
up in 1997. The total live racing audience was
reportedly four million, spread among 34
tracks. Greyhound racing was introduced to
Britain from the U.S. in 1926.
The older greyhound “sport” of
hare-coursing persists in Ireland as well as
England, heavily backed by British bettors.
An estimated 11,000 people attended the
February 4 National Coursing Meeting at
Clonmel, County Tipperary. Irish coursing
greyhounds have been muzzled in official
competition since 1993, but live-lure training
is apparently commonplace. “If the hounds
were not bloodthirsty, there would be no point
in the pursuit,” observed The Irish Times o n
February 5. About 20,000 greyhounds per
year are trained in Ireland.

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