Greyhound racing is going to the dogs
Too much competition from riverboats, casinosJuly 18, 1997
Web posted at: 11:08 p.m. EDT (0308 GMT)
From Correspondent Jeff Flock
KENOSHA, Wisconsin (CNN) -- The turnstiles are turning slowly. The seats are mostly empty. The take is shrinking, and the sport, it appears, is dying.
Greyhound racing in the United States is, to make a bad pun, going to the dogs.
"There's no question that we are a very troubled industry right now," says Roy Berger.
Berger runs Dairyland Park in Kenosha, Wisconsin, one of 48 dog-racing tracks in 14 states. A dozen tracks have gone out of business in the last five years, revenue is down $100 million nationwide and attendance is off 10 million.
"The bottom line is: The sexier, glitzier, more glamorous type of wagering is in slot machines and casino-style gambling," Berger says.
Riverboats and American Indian-operated casinos have been sprouting like weeds in the same economically challenged areas where dog tracks took root. Along with the lotteries, they are squeezing the tracks out.
"It's basically work," says John Busam of Midwest Gaming and Travel. "Handicapping (picking race winners) is work, and it's much easier to pull a handle or push a button on a slot machine to gamble."
The tracks are trying. Dairyland, for example, is offering "mutt racing," where gamblers can bring their own dogs.
Some tracks pipe in horse racing to bet on, and some allow slot machines and other gambling at the tracks. But in Wisconsin, where there are 17 Indian casinos that pay no state tax, that's not allowed.
"If everything stays the same and there's no help from state legislatures," says Busam, "we're probably looking at an extinct industry in a period of time. There's no question about it."
The cigar-chomping, blue- and gray-haired people who do like
dog racing remain passionate about their sport. But in the
gambling game these days, it seems that the riverboats win,
the casinos place, the lottery shows and dogs are the
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