THERE is an enormous amount of what appears to be intentional misinformation and simply incorrect information from what I can see regarding the status of greyhound racing in the United States.
Since the announcement by Premier Mike Baird that his government would ban the sport in NSW as of July 1, 2017, and since he started stating information about the status of greyhound racing in the United States as one of the many planks to bolster his argument supporting the ban, I have tried to obtain as much up-to-date knowledge on the state of the sport in the US.
I can assure readers this is no easy task. There is a lot of material which has not been updated for some time, although that won’t surprise too many people who regularly surf the internet on almost any subject.
So, let me just remind readers of the specific points in the McHugh Commission report regarding greyhound racing in the United States.
Volume 1, Section 5.2 ‘Greyhound racing has also been banned in the vast majority of states in the United States…’
Is that true?
Let’s look at some published material, readily available on the web.
‘In 1960, 28 greyhound tracks were operating in seven states. By 1990, 19 states had legalized pari-mutuel wagering, and the number of racetracks had doubled to 56.
Greyhound racing never existed in Maine, Virginia or Washington; the legislation was a proactive move to prevent any attempt by the industry to expand into new territory. Nevada had a brief courtship…when the Las Vegas Downs tracks opened in Henderson in January 1981, but it closed 11 months later. North Carolina, which outlawed dog racing in the 1950s, updated its gambling laws in 1998 and banned the televised transmission (simulcasting) of dog races into the state.’ (A Primer on Animal Rights, Kim W. Stallwood, Editor, 2002 p. 22)
According to one American website, as at 2014, ‘There are currently fifteen states that operate greyhound racing tracks: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.’
In the 1990s greyhound racing reached its peak with 62 tracks operating in 19 states, according to the book Animals and the Law by Jordan Curnutt (p. 251, published in 2001). Curnutt disagrees with Stallwood only in the number of tracks at its peak: 56 for the latter compared to 62 for the former, but they both agree on the number of states (19).
The website statelaws.findlaw.com notes, ‘For various historical reasons related to religion and morality in the United States, gambling is generally considered a vice that must be regulated heavily…’
It continues, ‘…some states don’t allow gambling at all within their boundaries…’ even though ‘under federal law gambling is generally not illegal.’ So, basically, for an organisation such as Grey2K to claim 39 states have outlawed greyhound racing is, essentially, a lie.
The following is an alphabetical list of the 50 US states, and alongside each I have penned what I understand is the current situation.
Alabama: Cities of 300,000 people or more are permitted to have racing, both horse and greyhound. The state has two tracks.
Alaska: Horse racing is specifically prohibited, so greyhound racing would be likely to be on the same page.
Arizona: Daytime greyhound racing not allowed on same day as daytime horse or harness races in same county.
Arkansas: Franchised greyhound racing is legal, pari-mutuel wagering only.
California: Not officially banned; there is no specific legislation against greyhound racing.
Colorado: Banned 2014.
Connecticut: Off-track betting allowed. Wagering on out-of-state dog races allowed.
Delaware: Not specified
Florida: Pari-mutuel wagering on greyhound dog racing allowed with permit. Off-track and inter-track wagering allowed.
Hawaii: Gambling on everything in the state is banned.
Idaho: Prohibited, according to Associated Press.
Illinois: Not specified.
Indiana: Not specified.
Iowa: Greyhound racing legal. Licensees may simultaneously telecast out-of-state races within racetrack for purpose of pari-mutuel wagering.
Kansas: As with horse racing since 2008, there’s been no greyhound racing in the state.
Kentucky: Not specified.
Louisiana: Greyhound racing prohibited.
Maine: Greyhound racing and interstate simulcasts of greyhound racing has been prohibited in Maine since 1993.
Maryland: Not specified.
Massachusetts: Banned as of 2010.
Michigan: No information available.
Minnesota: Not specified.
Mississippi: Greyhound racing and off-track betting isn’t specific in the gambling act, however, there are no racetracks in the state.
Missouri: Not specified.
Montana: Live or simulcast greyhound races at licensed racetracks or simulcast facilities legal. Pari-mutuel, on-track wagering only.
Nebraska: No information.
Nevada: A bill to ban greyhound racing (which was not operational in the state at the time) passed in 1997.
New Hampshire: Licensed greyhound racing illegal as of 2011. On-track pari-mutuel wagering legal.
New Jersey: Not specified, but unlikely to be allowed.
New Mexico: Not specified.
New York: Not specified.
North Carolina: Greyhound racing prohibited since 1950s.
North Dakota: Licensed greyhound racing; race simulcasts; pari-mutuel wagering, including place, show, quinella and combination
Ohio: Not specified.
Oklahoma: No information.
Oregon: Licensed greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering legal. Off-track pari-mutuel wagering authorized.
Pennsylvania: Banned 2004.
Rhode Island: Licensed greyhound racing, on-track pari-mutuel wagering legal in cities of Burrillville, Lincoln, and West Greenwich.
South Carolina: No information.
South Dakota: Licensed greyhound racing. Off-track pari-mutuel wagering authorized at satellite locations more than 50 miles away from any licensed dog track.
Tennessee: Not specified.
Texas: Limit of three racetrack licenses for greyhound racing. Simulcast races and on-track pari-mutuel wagering are legal.
Vermont: Prohibited, according to Associated Press.
Virginia: Greyhound racing specifically prohibited.
Washington: Wagering on greyhound races specifically prohibited, since 1996.
West Virginia: Licensed greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering are allowed.
Wisconsin: Licensed greyhound racing and on-track pari-mutuel wagering legal. Off-track betting prohibited. Simulcast wagering allowed.
Wyoming: Licensed dog racing and pari-mutuel wagering permitted.
So, what do we (think) we know?
Out of the 50 US states there are specific bans in place in 15 states. There are four states where the sport would probably not be allowed to operate and 15 states where there doesn’t appear to be specific legislation either way.
This leaves 16 states where greyhound racing remains legal or permissible.
So, as far as I can see the McHugh Commission statement that ‘Greyhound racing has also been banned in the vast majority of states in the United States…’ is incorrect.
The anti-racing organisation Grey2K claims greyhound racing is banned in 39 states. I challenge them to supply this website with the specific legislation banning greyhound racing from the legislatures in each of those 39 states.