For the Sake of the Animals, Gambling Must Be Decoupled from Live Racing

By: Dan Adkins | Posted: February 25, 2014 3:55 AM
Dan Adkins

Dan Adkins

It is no secret that interest in greyhound racing has been rapidly deteriorating.

The sport of queens, once Florida’s highest revenue-generating form of gambling, is on life support, and more than ever a danger to the health and safety of its subjects, the greyhounds.

Interest in greyhound racing is at an all-time low. Florida law mandates, however, that tracks operate live racing in order to also offer other legalized gaming products. This mandate is bad policy and comes with a high price for greyhounds.

When wagering dollars drop, so does the revenue paid to the kennel operators who provide care for the dogs. Lower revenue means there’s less in the way of money to care for the dogs since the operators must cut overhead. Case in point, the recent violations of a kennel operator who was charged with forging vaccination records -- an obvious cost-saving measure by the kennel operator. Hundreds of greyhounds were placed in danger due to the act.

Let this case be a wake-up call to the Legislature. As wagering and revenue continue to fall, the risk to the greyhounds increases. We expect problems that we have already seen to recur.

In 2010, a Washington County man was charged, and later convicted of animal cruelty, after 33 greyhounds were found dead from starvation and dehydration. Several other greyhounds were found near death from starvation in this same case.

The people of Florida spoke up and submitted over 1,300 comments to the Senate Gaming Committee in support of animal welfare and decoupling, while “economic impacts” came in a very distant second place with 75 comments.

The people of Florida care about dogs, and they do not want this situation to persist. The state should address it by making the operation of live racing optional for the tracks. If an operator chooses to continue live racing, that’s their prerogative, provided they can assure sufficient funding going toward proper care of the animals.

In addition, this funding should not come in the form of a subsidy from the state, or worse yet, from other gaming operators. If an operator chooses to continue live racing he should also be required to show that such operation can stand on its own from the revenue generated at that specific track or from revenue generated from selling the simulcast signal to other outlets both inside and outside the state.

The Florida Legislature has been considering comprehensive gambling reform legislation for several years. During this debate, decoupling live racing from other gambling at racetracks across Florida has become one of the most talked-about issues. Regardless of whether the Legislature decides to tackle a comprehensive gaming package this year, decoupling of live greyhound racing should be a priority. We should not be forcing businesses to continue a practice that is unsustainable and not of interest to its patrons, and we should not be placing dogs in harm’s way.

Dan Adkins is vice president and COO of Hartman & Tyner Inc., dba Mardi Gras Casino He wrote this piece with Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States

Tags: News, Columns

Comments (18)

Neil Roepke
5:38PM MAY 11TH 2014
"If an operator chooses to continue live racing he should also be required to show that such operation can stand on its own from the revenue generated at that specific track or from revenue generated from selling the simulcast signal to other outlets both inside and outside the state." - Dan Adkins, VP Mardi Gras Casino. I couldn't agree with him more, and I support his position to decouple if he, in fact, is also prepared to surrender his pari-mutuel license when he closes his racetrack and decouple his own profiteering from dog racing. Then his operation can also stand on it's own from the revenue generated through sources not related to your precious pari-mutuel license. Sound like a plan Dan?
Robert Van Aulen
1:03AM MAR 13TH 2014
Mr. Adkins, and the casinos simply don't want any additional costs, and are simply trying to eliminate racing to increase their profits. The fact is that the people wasting their money in the casinos would have a much better chance of winning by doing a little research and study and placing bets on the greyhounds this takes a little effort, which unfortunately most people are too lazy to do. If greyhound racing is made illegal, I hope that all the casinos are shut down as well, just how many lives do you think they've destroyed? I guess it's okay to destroy people, but the statistically small number of greyhound that are injured or die is a big no no? Palm Beach Greyhound Track still has very large handles everyday, and I'm pretty sure that they have no intent to end racing. Harness and Thoroughbred tracks should pay attention, as they will be the next logical targets of these despicable casino and "animal rights activists" groups. Their hypocrisy is laughable.
8:48AM MAR 5TH 2014
Disraeli is oft credited with coining the phrase, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'" Mr. Atkins apparently has no qualms about presenting information in a questionable manner in his attempts to break a deal he made in order to get casinos into Florida. The tracks have served their purpose and now it is time to discard both them and the dogs, dogs that he purports to care about. His hypocrisy knows no bounds!

He has teamed up with animal rights zealots, HSUS and Grey2K to accomplish his goal of being rid of the dogs and the tracks. That should start ringing all sorts of alarms as HSUS is little more than a huge scam, taking in many millions of dollars and donating less than 1% of those millions to any true animal charity. Grey2K follows the same MO, but on a smaller scale.

Well, the actual numbers don't support their claims. The reality of Florida greyhound racing, and the attendance/wagering on greyhound racing has been very consistent, Per the Annual Report from Florida's Division Of Pari-mutuel Wagering, for years 2010 - 2013, The pari-mutuel wagering activity on greyhounds is almost unchanged, The numbers they show could hardly present a sport described as 'in decline. So, Mr. Adkins, how about some truth in advertising rather than more damned lies?
Joy Mayne
4:39PM MAR 4TH 2014
What a moron you are, Adkins. *YOUR* track had it's biggest handle in 15 YEARS, yesterday, what decline? DIAF.
Animal Lover
2:28AM FEB 28TH 2014
My name is Lucky. I am a Greyhound racing dog and I love
to run fast. I was born to run. But some people want to stop
me from doing what I love. I don't know why. When I met my
kennel owner, he told me he would take very good care of me.
He feeds me nutritious foods to make me strong and I get to
play outside with lots of room to run. I get clean water to
drink and I have lots of doggie friends. I am so happy.
My favorite activity is going to the track to run in the
real races. I feel good, especially when I win. I get a
pat on my head even when I run last. I feel loved.
Come and see me at my kennel sometime. Surprise visits
are the best. You will see how happy me and my friends are.

Mr Dan Adkins, you said Greyhound dog racing was humane but
then you changed your mind and said it was inhumane. Isn't
that flip flopping your position. Why do you feel it's okay to lie
about dog racing claiming it is animal cruelty when kennel
owners treat all the dogs in their kennels like pets, even better.
You and anyone else are welcome to visit our kennels and see for
yourself how great our dogs are treated. To claim we are guilty
of animal cruelty is an insult that we find extremely offensive.
Live up to your promises and allow dog racing to continue.
If it weren't for Greyhound dog racing, you would not know
know the success that you are now enjoying.
4:27PM FEB 27TH 2014
Adkins states the forgeries were a cost saving measure. That's hiliarious! Barney O'Donnel is a multi multi millionaire, primarily from real estate dealings. He can buy and sell Adkins.
3:11PM FEB 27TH 2014
Dan interest in reading a real newspaper is at an all time low. So should the government do away with it because it is a dying business? Actual numbers show that greyhound racing is not only not cruel but much much safer than being a pet. They euthanize 250,000 dogs in Florida each year. If you were really concerned about dogs that would be where your efforts would be concentrated. For those that say that greyhounds are exploited for money, which pets aren't. Only those that are given away and that is a small fraction of them.
11:08AM FEB 27TH 2014
Handles are up all over Fl so i do believe this journalist is regurgitating info from the lobbyist group trying to stop racing by fabricating this and manipulating facts to pull at heart strings. For example ... A 1 yo puppy, no it was a 20 month old dog LIES, 74 deaths by injury, no the count was wrong and most were not due to racing. LIES
These are working dogs just like sled dogs, search and rescue dogs, military dogs and police canine officers.
How about doing 2 things, 1. Check you FACTS before you print and 2. Spotlight the 100's of thousands of animal KILLED ... Gassed in the masses by the humane society .... Why is that ok and dog racing isn't ? Pathetic
11:46PM FEB 26TH 2014
Meanwhile, every motor vehicle will kill, on average, 15 animals in its lifetime. We are all animal killers, yet that's ok because we gotta drive, right? Of course, the poor greyhounds, ya dad, ya dad, yadda. It's the biggest hypocrisy to cry about abuse that is almost non-existent and yet drive a killing machine. Tell yourselves that a bird or a squirrel or a deer or a stray cat or dog are any different than a racing greyhound who gets a hang nail. Remember, you choose to drive, you know you will kill.
Horse Race Fan
9:20PM FEB 26TH 2014
I think they should treat The Greyhound Tracks the same as they treat the Horse Tracks .. What is good for one surly is good for the other .
Don Beckett
6:59PM FEB 26TH 2014
I find it ironic that Dan Adkins is in cahoots with the Humane Society Of The United States, who uses convicted dog fighter Michael Vick as a spokesman.
6:36PM FEB 26TH 2014
People are still going to race greyhounds, whether it's at a regulated track that has safety precautions for the dogs or underground racing which will not have any of these in place. Which do you prefer?
Greyhound Trainer
5:37PM FEB 26TH 2014
Mr. Atkins does not believe that greyhound racing is inhumane! In fact, his track pays VERY well and he has publically acknowledged that greyhound racing is a humane sport.

Here's a direct quote from his February 27, 2011 interview with Jim Defede of CBS Miami.

“It is a sport, it’s a contact sport, it’s like football or baseball and injuries do happen.” Adkins admitted. “But these dogs are very well taken care of. I will never call this an inhumane sport because nobody in this industry does anything to hurt these animals “

You see, Mr. Atkins, is facing a tough road ahead in the upcoming legislative session. That is why he has suddenly "changed his tune" and is teaming up with the radical animal rights groups.

So, this begs the question- which is it Dan Atkins? Humane or inhumane?

I guess it depends on how desperate you are to get legislation passed in your favor.
Bart Fuller
3:27PM FEB 26TH 2014
It was not the racing that did this it was people that did it. It could have happened in a home and maybe has and no one knows about it. The one person in the story is in Jail where he should be and it was the greyhound industry that turned him in not the racetrack owner or management or the public or HSUS. The other has not had a court hearing so until that time I will not comment on it but I am wondering what kind of vice president and COO of the track where the dogs were racing at was doing not to catch this.
Chuck Danielian
2:47PM FEB 26TH 2014
The use of a loss leader is a management decision. No business entity should be forced, by law, to offer that loss leader in order to offer a substantially more profitable entity. From a purely business standpoint, Decoupling is a no brainer. The "live racing mandate" is almost twenty years old. It has served it's purpose. It is outdated and we've moved beyond it with our concerns for animal welfare. Although only a compromise solution, decoupling is the only way to end this cruel and inhumane form of entertainment in the state which boasts the most greyhound racing tracks in the nation (12). I don't believe that any animal should be used for entertainment and that no one should be able to profit from their exploitation. There's a reason that greyhound racing is illegal, or was never made legal, in 38 states.
judith henderson
9:21AM FEB 26TH 2014
as a greyhound rescuer i am appalled by the owners that allow these precious dog to be treated like that. maybe if they were treated like that they let those dogs go into homes and find out what is like to be loved,go to a vet when they need to,get a teeth cleaning when they need it.the greyhound is smart,kind lovable,playful.they are not there to be abused.
iris woolaston
3:38PM FEB 25TH 2014
Just ban all animal sports let the punters find another way to make money what about people sport? then they can do what they want as long as it's to themselves.
6:58PM FEB 27TH 2014
We should have voted no on amendment 4.
The tracks got away with that scam. lol
The state of Fla. Has got to stand behind its voted mandate.
Or this country is no better than the ones we flee from.
If adkins and havernecks get away with this one
We will be just like Cuba.
I know those dogs are treated great' I am a proud greyhound owner.
Its the tracks that have joined with animal rights Waco's
To now circumvent the law.
If they don't want to provide quality racing
Give up your casino license....
Like the LAW mandates.

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