AN anti-racing commenter questioned my facts regarding greyhound racing in the United States, after I raised issues about Premier Baird making two false statements in an interview on 2GB. Baird claimed racing had been conducted in a majority of American states in the ‘late 1970s’ but was now down to just five.
So let’s get this right: at no time in the history of the United States has any kind of racing, horse, harness or greyhounds, been conducted in a majority of the 50 US states, a majority being at least 26. Baird’s comments were totally, and probably intentionally, misleading. After all, Baird would know most listeners would not have a clue about greyhound racing and its history in the United States. Then again, neither does Mike Baird, but that would never stop a career politician like him from pretending he does.
I wrote that in 1972 seven US states conducted greyhound racing, but JeffWhite4 asked why I picked that year to represent the ‘late 1970s’. Ok, well to satisfy him, and no doubt others in the anti-racing camp, let’s go to 1981 instead. Quoting from The Encyclopaedia of Greyhound Racing by Roy Genders, which was first published in 1981: ‘In the USA, except in New York State, there is no legalized off-course betting…[There are] seven states which permit greyhound racing…of which Florida, Massachusetts, Arizona and Arkansas are the most important.’ So, in 1972 the US had seven states with greyhound racing and, nine years later, in 1981, it still had seven. With Texas about to restart, the industry will still be operational in six American states as of next year. I will repeat it again, at no time has greyhound racing ever been conducted in a majority of US states.
JeffWhite4 also listed a number of states where he claimed greyhound racing has been banned, including New Hampshire. In fact, simulcast greyhound racing (as well as simulcast horse and harness racing) takes place at Seabrook Park in New Hampshire. This is another state which formerly had racing but economics has, as I understand it, led to it being more profitable to just have simulcasts instead of live racing.
Unlike Australia, the vast majority of tracks in the US are privately-run and with declining attendances and increased land values (a bit like Wentworth Park and some of the other NSW-government owned tracks), it was a no-brainer for the owners to turn a nice profit on a large property which had been losing customers since the advent of the internet age.
As the GRA/America secretary replied to me in an email, ‘I will say that most of the states that have any legislation at all is to ban pari-mutual (sic) betting within the state, not racing itself. It does not stop online betting. And…most states do NOT have racing.’
Certainly Maine (1993) has legislation banning greyhound racing, a sport which has never operated in the state anyway, as does Arizona and Colorado, with the latter still permitting simulcast betting at its single horse racing track. It’s also worth noting greyhound racing ended in 2008 in Colorado, once more because of simple economics.
Turning to the alleged American breeder whose unsubstantiated quote about drowning pups appeared on page one of the McHugh report, a commenter on this website, Lone Widow, stated, ‘as a breeder I can tell you unequivocally that I don’t know until my pups are on the track after breaking in (14-15 months) how good they are. I had a bitch pup once that had a congenital deformity of the back leg that ran within 0.04 seconds of a track record. The quote of “as a breeder from an unnamed American source” is absolute garbage.’
Of course that statement, from an Australian breeder, wouldn’t have suited the McHugh Commission, so it would never have made it as a quote for page one of the report.