Dog racing ban on Massachusetts ballot
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2008:
BOSTON–The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on July
16, 2008 allowed the Committee to Protect Dogs, co-chaired by Grey
2K cofounder Christine Dorchak, to place on the November 2008 state
ballot an initiative that would ban greyhound racing and would put
the last two tracks in Massachusetts out of business by January 2010.
The first Grey 2K effort to ban greyhound racing in
Massachusetts failed by 1% of the vote in 2000. In July 2006 the
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts rejected as overbroad a
proposed ballot initiative that would have prohibited greyhound
racing and would have provided stiffer sentences for dogfighting and
harming police dogs.
The greyhound industry may have less money this year for
campaigning. The city of Revere, Massachusetts in July 2008
foreclosed on the Wonderland Greyhound Park over $789,293 in unpaid
taxes, and is owed $16,674 in water and sewage bills, reported
Katheleen Conti of the Boston Globe on August 1. “Wonderland is the
city’s eighth-largest taxpayer, and now its largest tax delinquent,”
Conti wrote. “In 1994, Wonderland paid $1.6 million in back taxes.
The city placed a lien on the property in June 2007.”
The track is expected to pay the current bills and keep
operating–at least until after the election.
Greyhound tracks are often now quasi-casinos, making more
money from slot machines, card tables, and off-track betting than
from racing. Unable to obtain a Kansas Lottery permit to keep up to
800 slot machines, the 20-year-old Woodlands track near Kansas City
in July 2008 laid off staff and threatened to close permanently
within 60 days. The Mile High Greyhound Park near Denver, the last
in Colorado, had closed just a month earlier.
The Wichita Greyhound Park closed in October 2007, two
months after voters declined to allow the track to keep slots.
Grey 2K USA in November 2004 appeared to have defeated a
Florida ballot proposal to allow greyhound tracks to operate slot
machines–but Broward County found 70,000 miscounted absentee votes
in favor of the slots. However, greyhound track owners have been
unable to push further enabling bills through the Florida
legislature. The Tampa Greyhound Track closed after 75 years in
Greyhound racing evolved from British-style hare coursing
after U.S. promoter Charles Munn invented the mechanical rabbit in
1912. Introduced to Britain in 1926, greyhound races drew 17
million people per year by 1933, when the Walthamstow track in east
London opened. Fewer than three million people per year attend
British greyhound races now. In mid-August 2008, Walthamstow
closed. Fewer than 30 greyhound tracks remain in Britain, down from
77 in 1948.