Greyhounds and slot machines: Today's opportunity to tell '˜em what we really think
Flagler Dog Track is a decaying grey building in the heart of Miami which looks more like a strung out concrete coliseum than a viable sports arena. Instead of drawing the crowds and packing the parking lot on weekends, it hosts flea markets where it once held hundreds of cars while their owners played the dogs.
Today, we South Floridians vote on the fate of three such places in our area: Flagler Dog Track, Calder Racetrack and Dania Jai-Alai. It’s no exaggeration to say that their very existence hangs in the balance of our decision on whether or not to allow slot machine gambling in their establishments.
Dog racing has fallen out of favor for a lot of reasons, much as the horse racing industry and jai-alai has lost fans to other sports events and more glamorous gambling concerns. In response, these businesses want to bring back the crowds with slot machines.
Though far from the glitz of earlier days at the track, this kind of gambling would nonetheless attract sufficient income to fund its survival, Flagler Dog Track’s owners and investors argue. We employ dozens of individuals, they claim, though in my view these minimum wage positions are nothing to brag about.
Greyhound racing opponents in Miami have taken to protesting the track’s comeback by parading their dogs (mostly retired greyhounds) in front of casinos, the dog track, and other gambling establishments where slot machines are a big draw or where it’s proposed they be featured in the near future.
Much as I hold thoroughbred racing dear and grieve to see it slip slowly away, my mixed feelings on its practices combined with the horrors of greyhound racing and my lack of identification with gambling as a pastime is enough to earn my computer-assisted anti-slots vote.
These sports should be able to earn their keep independent of slot machines. Let the public decide based on standards we deem acceptable when it comes to gambling in general. If these establishments can’t survive based on the current gambling standards they must resort to for their income, what does it say about the sport of kings?—or of jack-asses, whichever the case may be.