DENVER (CN) — A Colorado bill to outlaw gambling on simulcast greyhound races unanimously passed the House Finance Committee on Monday.
Live greyhound racing is banned in 42 states, including Colorado. The U.S. has only two active racetracks left, both in West Virginia. Both businesses are owned by Delaware North, a hospitality company out of Buffalo, New York. The racetracks are largely supported by out-of-state gamblers.
Simulcast betting additionally funds international racetracks in the United Kingdom and Mexico.
“We outlawed live greyhound racing as a legislature nine years ago, however, we left a loophole in place that is unfortunately contributing to the suffering and deaths of dogs,” House majority leader Monica Duran, a Democrat from Jefferson and one of the bill’s sponsors, said. “We have allowed local gambling on foreign races through a process called simulcasting.”
A portmanteau of "simultaneous" and "broadcast," simulcasting allows individuals to watch and bet on events as they are televised elsewhere.
The Centennial State banned live greyhound racing in 2014, but allowed simulcast betting to continue and fund a greyhound rescue program in addition to the Horse Breeders' and Owners' Awards and Supplemental Purse Fund.
The bill, titled “Prohibit Wagering on Simulcast Greyhound Races,” has bipartisan support in the House and state Senate, but encountered criticism before the House Committee on Business Affairs & Labor last month. Several horse breeders and racers objected to the loss of funds for horse races. As a fix, sponsors amended the bill to keep simulcasting in effect through October 1, 2024, allowing the state’s horse race industry more than a year to secure alternative funding.
“I often comment that if I wanted to come back, I’d want to come back as a racehorse because they are treated so well, but that is not the case with greyhound racing,” said House minority leader Mike Lynch, a Republican from Larimer and a co-sponsor on the bill.
Proponents of the measure point out stark differences between horse and dog races.
“In the last couple of decades, you've seen lots of reform in the horse racing industry, lots of changes in terms of making life better for the horses, but you have not seen that at all in greyhound racing,” said Carey Thiel, executive director of Grey2K USA, a nonprofit greyhound rescue organization.
“Gambling on greyhound racing has largely moved to simulcasting and also to online betting. Remote gambling has become so critically important because these last remaining U.S. dog tracks and new foreign tracks are heavily dependent on this remote gambling from states like Colorado,” Thiel said in an interview.
Thiel said Colorado is the fourth largest American market for greyhound racing behind Oregon, Florida and North Dakota.
The Colorado bill focuses on the businesses hosting simulcast races and does not address online gambling. An Oregon law passed last year banned gambling companies from processing greyhound race bets from states where the sport is illegal.
“Thankfully, greyhound racing is gasping its last breath — and anything like this that hastens the demise of this abusive industry is welcomed by PETA and by the dogs who are treated like machines and then discarded like dishrags in this pathetic excuse of a ‘sport,’” said Catie Cryar, media relations manager for animal welfare group PETA, in an email.
The bill next heads to the House Appropriations Committee.
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