Texas National Greyhound Group Jockey for $ 2 million cut in remaining funds

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LA MARQUE – More than a year after the closure of Gulf Greyhound Park, the state’s last dog track, the Texas Racing Commission has asked the Texas Attorney General to help run approximately $ 2 million in cash prizes in greyhound races.

The money came from gambling on Texas horse tracks, which state law requires to pay 5.5 percent of interstate income from interspecies to the Texas Greyhound Association, the appeal said. It is held in trust by the Texas Greyhound Association and must be used “on the racetrack in this state” under state law.

But since no races have been held in Texas since the La Marque Gulf Greyhound Park closed in June 2020, the money is piling up and cannot continue.

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

The December complaint to the Attorney General came after the Texas Greyhound Association proposed distributing the money accumulated March 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021 to the kennel owners and Texas-bred greyhound owners who attended the last meeting in Texas final races at Gulf Greyhound Park.

“These people have been tremendously harmed by this closure,” said Galbreath. “Not only had they invested years of time, but also money, to have greyhounds ready for the 2021 race.”

But others, including Grey2K USA, an advocacy group focused on ending greyhound racing, oppose the proposal. Grey2K USA argued that the money would turn into annual subsidies for those in the industry.

“It’s just incredibly strange,” said Executive Director Carey Thiel.

The appeal to the attorney general seeks comment on the legality of the $ 2 million delivery to greyhound owners and whether future distributions would be acceptable.

It can take up to 180 days to receive a response.

Falling interest

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

Florida voters banned greyhound racing in 2018, which resulted in the closure of the majority of the country’s dog tracks. Gulf Greyhound Park cited waning interest when it announced its 2020 closure, a move that effectively ended greyhound races in Texas.

Although races are still planned at Valley Race Park in Harlingen, they are likely to be canceled because the park is unable to host races, said Galbreath, who has no hope of reviving greyhound races in Texas.

Now only three states – Arkansas, Iowa, and West Virginia – have operational dog tracks, though the Arkansas and Iowa tracks have announced they won’t stop live racing in 2022.

Generational practice

Many of the people in the greyhound industry have been around for generations, Galbreath said.

“We have guys who are over 50 but they have never done anything else,” he said. “Your parents did it; they grew up with it. “

The Gulf Greyhound Park closure, announced just six months in advance, was a blow to those who had put thousands of dollars and years of labor into their dogs, Galbreath said. Most found themselves with dogs ready to race with nowhere to go, he said.

It is difficult for breeders and owners to get their dogs to races outside of the state, Galbreath said. Tracks are associated with kennels that supply the dogs that race, he said. In order to get a dog into the kennel and thus 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 opportunities to work with new breeders, he said.

“Basically there are no vacancies because these trainers at other railways have breeders that they work with in other states,” he said.

While there aren’t many breeders in Texas, all of them have been harmed by the Gulf Greyhound Park closure, Galbreath said. And after investing thousands of dollars in raising dogs for racing, many have no choice but to adopt them, he said.

“Fortunately, there are a lot of adoption groups and they help us tremendously,” he said. “But even so, you have dogs and thousands of dollars are invested in those dogs.”

The application

In proposals submitted to the Texas Racing Commission, the Texas Greyhound Association identified two ways in which the money would be distributed.

Under both proposals, approximately $ 1 million would be split among the eight kennels that attended the final meeting at Gulf Greyhound Park.

According to the first proposal, preferred by the association, the proportion of monies each kennel receives would be based on the proportion of monies paid to each kennel based on race results. In the second proposal, each kennel would receive the same amount of money.

Both proposals distribute the remaining $ 1 million among the 39 Texas-bred greyhound owners who attended the final meeting, with each receiving close to $ 26,000.

The opposition

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

“This money was kind of earned and made on the backs of greyhound people across the country,” he said.

Thiel and Grey2K USA fear that the one-time payout could become a regular occurrence instead, as the money continues to pile up under state law.

“If you bring that to the end, it will become a permanent subsidy for dog races for these 47 people that will never exist,” said Thiel.

And while he acknowledged the greyhound industry has struggled in recent years, setting up a subsidy would be a bad precedent, Thiel said. To prevent this from happening, the group tried unsuccessfully to change the law since greyhound races no longer take place.

None of the Texas Greyhound Association’s proposals address the use of future funds.

Galbreath said he didn’t know if the money would be an annual grant. But the money would help the injured, he said.

“Can you imagine that you are 50 years old, something you’ve been doing all your life and now it’s gone?” He said. “And what are you qualified for? What job are you going to get? “


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