Texas, national greyhound groups attempt to cut residual purses by $ 2 million

THE BRAND – More than a year after the closure of Gulf Greyhound Park, the state’s last dog track, the Texas Racing Commission asked the Texas Attorney General to help it manage about $ 2 million for stock market gains in greyhound racing.

The money comes from gambling at Texas racetracks, which are required by state law to pay 5.5% of interstate interspecies revenue to the Texas Greyhound Association, according to the call. It is held in receivership by the Texas Greyhound Association and, under state law, must be used “on racetracks in that state.”

But since no races have taken place in Texas since the closure of La Marque’s Gulf Greyhound Park in June 2020, money is piling up with nowhere to go.

“It’s not taxpayers’ money,” said Billy Galbreath, president of the Texas Greyhound Association. “It’s money that by law goes to the greyhound industry.”

The December appeal to the attorney general came after the Texas Greyhound Association proposed that the money accumulated from March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021 be distributed to kennel owners and Texas-bred greyhound owners who participated in the last meeting. in Texas, the last races at Gulf Greyhound Park.

“These people have been affected enormously by this closure,” said Galbreath. “They had invested not only years of time but also money to have greyhounds ready to compete in the 2021 competition.”

But others, including Grey2K USA, an advocacy group focused on ending greyhound racing, are opposed to the proposal. Grey2K USA argued that the money would become annual grants for industry players.

“It’s just incredibly strange,” said executive director Carey Thiel.

The appeal to the attorney general seeks an opinion on the legality of giving the $ 2 million to greyhound owners and whether future distributions would be allowed.

It may take up to 180 days for a response.

Decreasing interest

Interest in greyhound racing has waned in recent years as advocacy groups have sought to ban the sport.

Florida voters in 2018 banned greyhound racing, shutting down most dog tracks across the country. Gulf Greyhound Park spoke of declining interest when it announced the closure in 2020, a move that effectively put an end to greyhound racing in Texas.

Although races are still scheduled at Valley Race Park in Harlingen, they will likely be canceled because the park is not in a condition to host races, said Galbreath, who has no hope that greyhound racing will resume at the Texas.

Now only three states – Arkansas, Iowa and West Virginia – have operational dog tracks, although tracks in Arkansas and Iowa have announced they will stop live racing in 2022.

Generational practice

Many people involved in the greyhound industry have been there for generations, Galbreath said.

“We have guys who are in their 50s, but they’ve never done anything else,” he said. “Their parents did; they grew up doing that.

The closure of Gulf Greyhound Park, which came with just six months’ notice, was a blow to those who had invested thousands of dollars and years of work into their dogs, Galbreath said. Most ended up with dogs ready to run and nowhere to go, he said.

It’s difficult for breeders and owners to get their dogs to race out of state, Galbreath said. The tracks are associated with kennels, which provide the running dogs, he said. To get a dog into the kennel and therefore into a race, the owner or breeder must have a relationship with that kennel, he said.

And in a country where dog tracks are scarce, few kennels have openings to work with new breeders, he said.

“There’s basically no opening because these trainers from other tracks have breeders they work with in other states,” he said.

While there aren’t many ranchers in Texas, all of them have been affected by the Gulf Greyhound Park closure, Galbreath said. And after investing thousands of dollars in breeding race dogs, many have no choice but to adopt them, he said.

Luckily there are a ton of adoption groups out there and they are great at helping us out, ”he said. “But still, you have dogs and thousands of dollars invested in those dogs.”

Proposal

In proposals submitted to the Texas Racing Commission, the Texas Greyhound Association defined two ways to distribute the money.

Under the two proposals, approximately $ 1 million would be divided among the eight kennels that participated in the final meet at Gulf Greyhound Park.

According to the first proposition, which the association prefers, the proportion of money received by each kennel would be based on the proportions of scholarships paid to each kennel according to the results of the race. In the second proposal, each kennel would receive the same amount of money.

The two proposals divide the remaining $ 1 million among the 39 Texas-bred greyhound owners who attended the final meet, each receiving just under $ 26,000.

The opposition

The National Greyhound Association would prefer the money not to be limited to Texas-based owners and breeders, said executive director Jim Gartland.

“This money was earned, so to speak, and earned on the backs of greyhounds across the country,” he said.

Thiel and Grey2K USA are concerned that because money will continue to accumulate under state law, the one-time payment will instead become a regular occurrence.

“If you take that to its logical conclusion, it becomes a lifelong grant to these 47 people for dog races that will never happen,” Thiel said.

And while he acknowledges that the greyhound industry has struggled in recent years, putting in place a subsidy would set a bad precedent, Thiel said. To avoid this, the group tried in vain to change the law because greyhound racing no longer takes place.

Neither of the Texas Greyhound Association’s two proposals addresses how future funds will be used.

Galbreath said he was unsure whether the money would be an annual grant. But the money would help those who were injured, he said.

“Can you imagine you’re 50, something you’ve been doing your whole life, and now it’s gone?” ” he said. “So what are you qualified to do?” What job are you going to get? “

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