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Florida dog racing reform

Florida lawmakers seem to be giving up on passing a comprehensive gambling law this year but they are still considering changes at the state's dog tracks.

Right now, greyhound tracks must offer a minimum number of races, if they want to run a poker room.

Today, a South Florida Senator pushed to eliminate that requirement.
A study commissioned by the state found that most dog tracks, including Pensacola's, lose millions of dollars on racing every year.

People are divided on the idea of ending the races.
Legislation that began as a requirement to report injuries to racing greyhounds has morphed into what is being called de-coupling...

Margaret Miller: "It seems to me that it's a good idea that documentation should be required for any injured animal."

The second part of the legislation will mean dog tracks will also be able to drop racing but keep card rooms or slots.

David Baden: "People are going to spend their money on gambling if they want. Why not keep the money here at home than over in Mississippi?"

Sen. Eleanor Sobel: "A racing greyhound dies in Florida every three days. We need better regulations."

As State Senators announced their plan to end greyhound racing, the Senate President's wife stroked three dogs at the event. More than four-dozen unhappy dog breeders also showed up.

Extra security was brought in as a precaution, but not needed. Sponsor Maria Sachs says racing will be optional under her plan.

Sen. Maria Sachs: "Those dog tracks that are losing money, they don't have to continue to race, but they'll be able to operate their business in a business-like model."

The breeders have been fighting to stay alive for more than a decade. Florida is home to 13 tracks that still race.

Still, racing advocates say the gaming remains popular.
Jack Cory: "Eighty-eight million dollars was bet on live greyhound racing in this state. Eighty-eight million dollars."

Track owners had hoped to offer slots and more under a major expansion of gambling that was on track for this year. but with the expansion dead, they are hoping to shed the live events which are less profitable than card rooms.

The bill stalled in committee today, but lawmakers could still vote on the changes before the session ends next month.