Dog Racing, from Jeff Watson

October 26, 2010 |

 While horse racing has run into a major headwind, dog racing has floundered and is sinking quickly. The animal rights activists have persuaded the state governments to outlaw dog racing in 36 states. There's only a few tracks left, with a majority in Florida. None of the tracks in Florida are doing well. The handles at my local track are 35% less than they were in 1995, with expenses and taxes going up every year, and declining attendance. The local track tries inducements like $0.50 beer and hot dogs. Because of the law of unintended consequences, the local homeless have discovered the cheap eats and the place has become a de facto soup kitchen. Our dog track has become a dangerous place to hang out, and muggings in the parking lot at night are very common. Pan handling at the track has been elevated to a high art, and petty grifts are an everyday occurrence.

On a personal note, I would be afraid to cash a big ticket and walk out at night, because the crowd is so sketchy. In fact, the crowd at the dog track resembles those desperate souls one finds at the bus station (Greyhound), or the local shelter. But, then again, our local track only has an average attendance of a few hundred which puts a bullseye on your back for those with evil intentions. One tries to find solace at the upstairs club, but since the track offers ways to get free admission, it's no better than standing at the rail. The jury is out as far as the simulcasting during season, but simulcasting does offer the degenerate year round access to the tote boards and action(even after live racing is done). Simulcasting is a very expensive proposition, and the extremely high vig makes it as likely to see a yeti as to win at the track. Recent studies have shown that the simulcasting handle has gone down significantly in the past decade.

The lotto has really hurt the dog track business, as now one doesn't need to go to the dog track to get long odds with high vig….just go to any gas station, 7/11, or Publix to get your fix. Online poker and other internet gambling have also taken a toll on the dogs. Most tracks are fighting back by offering poker rooms and other casino games and/or machines. The aforementioned games seem to all have very high vig, and the vig at the poker room is larcenous. In poker tournaments, the vig sometimes runs in the range of 10-22%….for a poker game. In the small cash hold'em games, the vig runs around 10-12%, making it impossible to beat in the long run if you are not a gambler. A grinder would find it impossible to make it at the poker room upstairs from the track. Somehow, I suspect that dog racing will survive in one form or another, just as jai alai is hanging on by a thread. There might be enough die hard fans to keep it alive and I'd be willing to offer 6:5 that dog racing will survive for another generation….after that, who knows.

Is Florida greyhound racing on the decline? Examiner.Com  


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