Is greyhound racing actually banned in the majority of the US?

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 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.
Georgia: Prohibited.
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.
Utah: Prohibited.
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.

Past Discussion

  1. Lets look at Baird and Grant with their trail of destruction here in NSW (1) Greyhound Ban& Propaganda  (2) Council Amalgamations  (3) Health Care Cuts (4) Cuts to Disabilities  (5) West Connex (6) Some Liberals Found to be Corrupt (7) ICAC Funding Cuts (8) Misuse of Public Funds ! I ask with a record like this how could anybody vote for two failures like these two ,Yes we are on the EVE DESTRUCTION HERE IN NSW  !

  2. Todman  I think Steve Rushton QC was really  in charge of “evidence” not McHugh he was just the figure head. Legal insiders claim Rushton (friend of a late greens politician with an anti greyhound stand who I will not name out of respect for his family) took over the commission and viewed it as “his” they just used McHugh to make it look respectable.

    Rushton made an opening statement he wanted the industry closed.  Bullied witnesses, selected witnesses he wanted, either anti racing or the few trainers who had already admitted to live baiting. McHugh as respected and learned that he is, is retired and in his eighties. He also made 79 recommendations for keeping the industry open including more money for us and less for the horses. Baird  chose to follow only  one of McHugh’s recommendations and ignored the other 79. Baird is responsible for this aided by a heap of weak politicians.

  3. BobWhitelaw  and of course the most tragic of all one baby dying and another healthy beautiful little girl damaged for the rest of her life because of a failure to maintain the hospital gas lines which could only have been a result of lack of funds to public hospitals.

    State assets flogged off to the highest foreign bidder so that in five years the state will have no income.

    The end result of their greyhound ban will be thousands of dogs surrendered-  race dogs and the old ones who are currently fed by the race dog earnings. Baird and co will create the biggest mass grave in greyhound history. The public were outraged at 99 we will see how the public feel when thousands are put down when the race money goes and people can no longer feed them.

  4. You have done a terrific research job here Duncan and I believe our John Tracey also did a very impressive historical account earlier  on how many countries have greyhound racing. Whilst John did it so much better than I could-  basically greyhound racing followed British colonialism. The fact that only a relatively small number of countries have ever had greyhound racing does not mean that it is a bad thing. What the Americans do or don’t  does not make it right or wrong.

    Greyhound racing is in countries that also have enough meat to supply the dogs. In many third world countries meat is a luxury or simply not on the menu because it is expensive to produce compared to grain. Many countries have residents who sadly cannot afford to feed themselves let alone a team of dogs. Similarly horse racing is a very expensive hobby and really only pursued where people have the luxury of enough money to care and feed for their animals ,money in some cases from huge amounts of oil.

  5. You’re grasping at straws here Mr. Stearn. By your own admission greyhound racing is legal or permissible in “16 states” That means it isn’t “legal or permissible” in 34 states. More than twice as many. That’s coming pretty close to a “vast majority” in my book. Also, your information is incorrect. Arizona banned greyhound racing earlier this year. Further, in states, like Washington, where there is no specific ban against racing itself, betting on racing is illegal. Do you really think anyone in the industry would open a track in a state like that for fun? It is effectively a ban on racing.

    I understand your point here is to try and discredit the McHugh Commission report by chewing around its edges and not ever truly engaging in the central tenet of the report which points out the essential, institutionalized cruelty of greyhound racing, but I think you’re going to have to do better than  that.

    I am a Board member of Grey2K USA Worldwide, an organization that fights to save these marvelous creatures all over the globe. (you can learn more about us here: I have fostered and adopted rescued racing greyhounds since 1995. With man other people in Australia and around the world, I look forward to the day no more greyhounds will be abandoned injured and killed chasing dollars in NSW.
    Fred Barton
    Board Member
    Grey2K USA Worldwide

  6. In the early 20th century, several states passed general anti-gambling laws which survive to this day. Any subsequent legal gambling activity in such states would require specific legislation to carve out an exception for such activity. In several states there has been no legislation specifically allowing gambling on greyhound races, and accordingly pari-mutuel wagering on greyhound races remains illegal.

    For example, in New York state a bill was passed in 1937 that would have made gambling on dog races legal, but the governor vetoed it. No legal dog racing has taken place in New York since then.

    In California,gambling on greyhoundracing has never been legalized. In 1948 there was a ballotinitiative (Proposition 2) that would have legalized gambling on dog races, butit failed to pass.

    In April 1935 the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that dog racing with pari-mutuel betting was unconstitutional in that state. It has been illegal ever since.

    The state of Kentucky passed legislation granting an exemption to horse racing from the general prohibition on gambling. Horse racing has thrived in that state ever since. No such legislation has been passed allowing pari-mutuel dog racing. An attempt to shoehorn dog racing into the horse racing exemption went all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 1927. In that case, Smith v. Kentucky, the court upheld lower court rulings that greyhound racing did not fall within thatexemption. Greyhound racing has been illegal in Kentucky ever since. 

    In 2011 South Dakota allowed its authorization for wagering on live greyhound racing to expire. There had been no live dog racing in the state since 1994. Any attempt to revive greyhound racing in that state would require legislation.

    Another flaw in the list posted above: In Arizona, a bill was passed this year, banning greyhound racing:

  7. Deborah555 BobWhitelaw Don’t forget as well as the Greyhounds the Libs have killed off Kings Cross.  No more night life for Sydney. Sydney will be a dead city.

  8. To save face and prevent the horse racing industry from a welfare inquiry, he upped the prize money so they can claim 100% will be rehomed…what a load of crap…most foals never get registered so therefore they don’t exist..they don’t become a “rehomed” statistic.

  9. Saveourgreyhounds  Yes if this is not class warfare I don’t know what is saveourgreyhounds. The leaked memo about literacy levels has certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest though and almost all comments from the telegraphs great article about some of the dog people with a great deal of education has provoked heaps of comments almost all supportive of the greyhound people and his crap policies about everything.

    Yes I think Baird thought he could just announce the ban and the “bogans in tracksuits who he thinks cannot string a sentence together” would just wear it and go away and the rest of the community would not be interested. Hasn’t quite worked out that way for him though he didn’t understand just how much we love our dogs and racing and democracy is of interest to everyone dog trainer or not.

  10. What about their Chief of Staff that’s advising Baird and Grant ,Known to be (dense,dull,silly ,slow, and thick ) in short DUMB and we are paying theses Pr—s top money, why?

  11. BobWhitelaw  I think he might be paid to be a Pr—k and he seems pretty good at that. I love these leaked emails that one about how they were going to fob off the transition to the Alliance and the RSPCA should prove very politically embarrassing and “low levels of literacy” from a department that  sent out hundreds of emails detailing everyone’s email addresses by mistake ( breaking privacy laws ?) and telling everyone just delete them that should sort the problem. I couldn’t stop laughing. Yes they obviously live in a world of their own , although I think the real world is encroaching on them. I think the  method  the advertising budget was approved might prove embarrassing as well.

  12. Saveourgreyhounds  Yes I have some doubts about their 100% rehoming claims. From what I have seen of thoroughbred racehorses it would be difficult to imagine them with a small child on their back at pony club which they have claimed as a rehoming idea.  Bit frisky and hard to handle I would have thought.

  13. There is 100 greyhound racing tracks in Australia, how come the only problem area is NSW. BAIRD IS THE PROBLEM.

    A land grabber for his developer friends and of course the Greens.

    Roll on Orange.

  14. Harvey1234  Couldn’t agree more Baird and Grant are the problem not greyhound racing. The local council elections sent them a message and Orange will as well, even a big swing is a good enough message a win even better of course.

  15. Baird, despite his claims he is doing the right thing and he will win again with an increased majority he must be worried.  So worried he is now throwing money to the peasants for their children with childcare rebates ( with Federal money not his money or money from the assets he has sold – funny I thought they were state owned or were he seems to think they are his personal assets that he can sell to the highest foreign bidder)

    I bet that hurt handing out that money – he was probably saving it for just before the next election hoping the peasants would forget all the rest of the mess he has created.

    He might need to figure out what he is going to do next July when the race money runs out and no matter how much people love their dogs they will not be able to feed them and have to surrender them and not just the race dogs but the very large number of old dogs with the greyhound people who are also fed with the race money.  This potential mass grave will not be able to be explained away with ” we will save others with the ban”  Not this many dogs. Some estimates are as high as 15,000 which will overwhelm the rehoming and RSPCA and the dogs will be put down or sent to some university vet lab (is that any better?) I have asked him and he has not provided me with an answer. Perhaps some of you could help me asking these so called animal welfare pollies about this potential mass grave and what if they love greyhounds so much they are going to do about it. The public were outraged at 99 – 15,000 well that is political suicide.

    Perhaps Jeff White ( and you have been on this site a lot recently) you could join me in my email campaign to demand answers to the prevention of this potential mass grave instead of demonising dog people on your rehoming site. Now you have “won” and got racing banned lets see you do the hard yards and prevent these deaths. Freddy B ( and you have been listening as well )  you could help as well. One of  most outspoken anti greyhound racing people in Britain has condemned how this was handled and said it was the last way they wanted it done in England it would overwhelm the rehoming places and the dogs would all be put down. Lets see the anti greyhound racing people get off their ” we win it’s gone aren’t we wonderful, moral people” and get off their arses and help the dogs with nooses around their necks and then we will really see how much they love greyhounds.

  16. Grant gave the Gallops 12 Million for a weekend of racing at Randwick this was after 157 million for the Grandstand there at Randwick ,now 24million for upgrade Of Rosehill  we were never going to get that support it was easier to shut us down and one of those Pr—s promised us market share with the Tax, which at the time was  around 22% what did the Grub give us 10% the other two codes got the rest. Bring on the Orange By-Election and I’ll be there !

  17. BobWhitelaw  Well then they obviously have enough money to feed the greyhounds till homes can be found for them all. This is not class warfare Baird said so. It certainly looks that way to me.

  18. BobWhitelaw  Baird has told some-one who shall remain nameless that he doesn’t think there is a big problem looming “they will just get sent interstate” I don’t think so not the old ones, the ones that people race for the joy of it. If this is true what he is actually saying is that they can be ” tortured by this cruel industry” in another state and I will just collect the interstate betting revenue. Concerned about animal welfare- bullshit.

    The sooner this fool and nasty fool at that goes the better.

  19. I have been told by a very reliable insider that the greyhound protests, the emails condemning the ban are working with the pollies. They are worried especially the Nationals who are worried about their seats. It has created deep divisions. Baird and his supporters thought this would go away in a few days.  We need to keep the pressure on them. I have read every article and every comment in all Australian newspapers and a number of overseas newspapers relating to this ban.  Initially there was much condemnation of the greyhound people but the mood has changed and the general public are not stupid and they realise this has implications far beyond the greyhound track that they do not like.

    I believe that some of the greyhound people feel reluctant to email or write because they are concerned that they do not write well enough.  We can all express how we feel and it can be done in a couple of sentences. No politician cares whether you complain using amazing literacy they just want your vote and even if they don’t care about the fate of the greyhounds who cares they want another term and this issue of what happens to the dogs is of great concern to the decent people in the community. Let them find a solution. They will not be fobbing this off to the rehoming people and the RSPCA ( that was apparently their plan)

    Persistence that’s  a lesson we can all learn from the animal activists who are relentless. Keep up the pressure. As long as you do not threaten anyone a simple statement is all that is required for them to feel the heat. They are interested in votes not how well anyone expresses themselves.

  20. PS I am most certainly not suggesting that greyhound trainers have poor literacy skills I know how clever my fellow trainers are university degrees or not.

  21. Mr Grant has had coins made “Troy” coins and his intention is to hand them out to visiting dignitaries . Yes I can imagine them becoming treasured keepsakes for VIP’s. LOL. Yes the taxpayer is footing the bill for special coins so important people can remember him. I cannot imagine anyone important or not wanting a coin to remember Mr Grant by although I admit I am no expert in coins. Is this  an ego seriously out of control? He might have to hand them out real quick. LOL

  22. Mr Baird is currently defending his statement that the London greyhounds were banned saying these welfare issues are intertwined after previously claiming the dogs were removed from London because of welfare issues.

    That is not what the London politicians stated. They were honest they said they wanted the land. A new track has been built on cheaper land out of the city ( I presume  as compensation.) The London politicians got the land they wanted, the greyhound people got a new refurbished track outside the CBD ( less driving through the traffic would be good I would have thought) Yes everyone happy including the residents who will now have a new football oval and other facilities. The London politicians stated they did not want racing banned they just wanted the land. Contrast Mr Baird’s approach- he chose to demonise dog trainers, waste millions in taxpayers money and create the potential death of thousand of greyhounds. If he wants to learn from other countries he might take note here instead of selectively misquoting. Including the anti racing people in London who also condemned how he had gone about this.

  23. New legislation giving stewards the powers to enter horse properties without notice not just to check on welfare but drugs as well- has some horses breeders outraged and claiming they will take the matter to court. I thought this was  a booming well regulated industry that already had all this covered. Well Baird and Adam Marshall claimed that was the situation.  Now they are hurriedly changing legislation and people are objecting.

    Only one jockey came to the defence of the greyhound people the rest sat back or condemned greyhound people believing that wealthy people who race their pets would be immune.

    I don’t think so you let the animal activists off the leash they bite everyone.

    If it was such a great well regulated industry why the scurry to quickly appear to care about welfare. How come they get a chance to clean up their act but the greyhound people were deemed to be incapable despite radical changes in the last year?

    Class warfare? We could rehome every dog with the money they have handed out to the horse set in the last month.

  24. Organizations like Grey2K in the US have a political and social goal.  To stop greyhound racing at all costs.  The fate of the dogs themselves is not relevant to them.  When organized racing end the NGA racing greyhound as a breed will cease to exist, leaving only the 200 or so AKC sub breed left, and they are an entirely different dog. 

    So in effect, groups like Grey2K will kill of a breed that dates back to the time of the Bible.  Great job folks.  Kill off the breed instead of working with the racing industry to maintain good conditions for what is a working breed. 

  25. PaulRodgers1  Whilst there are many people in rehoming and anti racing groups that are probably genuine some of the fanatics are motivated by anything other than animal welfare some of them would be equally adept at running any sort of a cult. I think in America some of the groups are actually classified as domestic terrorists.

  26. PaulRodgers1  PS I think Jeff White ( I can see you listening Jeff) is motivated by a love of animals but whoever organised the titty underwear opening of the PETA conference well to be honest I would prefer not to know what goes on in their head.