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West Virginia Congress Oppose Greyhound Protection Act
A federal bill aimed at gradually eliminating greyhound racing in West Virginia, the last stronghold of the sport in the United States, has faced resistance from the state’s representatives in Congress. US Representatives Alex Mooney (R) and Carol Miller (R) have expressed their belief that the decision to end dog races should rest with West Virginia itself.
Mooney stated, “Greyhound racing holds a significant place in West Virginia’s history,” as reported by The Wheeling News-Register. “Determining the future of dog tracks within the state should be a prerogative of the state government and the private sector.”
Challenging a “Cruel, Dying Industry”
The Greyhound Protection Act (GPA), a bipartisan bill introduced last Thursday by US Representative Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers, seeks to amend the federal Animal Welfare Act. If passed, the bill would prohibit greyhound racing and illegalize wagering on races.
Cardenas, an advocate for animal rights, described greyhound racing as a “cruel, dying industry” that should no longer exist in the country. He emphasized the harsh training conditions and the risks of injury and death faced by the dogs during races. Additionally, he highlighted the appalling treatment of these animals, including drugging, electrocution, and extensive confinement for up to 23 hours per day.
Cardenas expressed his hope that the Greyhound Protection Act would permanently bring an end to the commercial greyhound racing industry and the associated animal abuses.
The Last Holdouts
Currently, West Virginia hosts the only two remaining greyhound racing tracks in the country. These tracks are situated at the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort near Charleston and the Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack. Since the discontinuation of racing in Florida at the end of 2020 and the closure of Southland, Arkansas’ last track at the end of the previous year, these two tracks represent the sole remaining venues for greyhound racing in the US.
The decline of competition seems to have had a positive impact on betting activity at the West Virginia tracks. Delaware North, the owner of both establishments, stated to The Wheeling News-Register that while there are no immediate plans to halt racing, the company would not oppose ending races if required by federal legislation.
This is primarily because the tracks, classified as racetracks, are permitted to offer gambling games such as video lottery terminals (VLTs) and table games. In fact, transitioning from a “racino” to a fully-fledged casino by discontinuing racing would likely prove more lucrative in the long term.
Glen White, a spokesperson for Delaware North, commented, “Delaware North is closely monitoring legislative efforts to end greyhound racing in West Virginia and would support a phased approach if legislation were enacted that permitted us to operate the casinos without conducting races.”