Citing a declining demand in the local market and hurdles created by Alabama’s prohibitive gambling laws, the Mobile Greyhound Park in Tillman’s Corner has announced it will end live dog races by the end of August.
Since 1973, Mobile Greyhound Park has offered both live dog races and simulcasted dog and horse races. In previous years, live greyhound races have generated millions of dollars from bets placed at the track, but those revenues have steadily declined over the past three decades.In 2009, PCI Gaming Authority — an enterprise of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians — purchased 65 percent of the controlling interest of the track for a reported $10 million, and it was PCI who announced Monday that live dog racing in Mobile would soon be a thing of the past.
“We will continue to offer simulcasts of races originating from other locations,” PCI said in a press release. “In 1991 there were 62 active greyhound tracks unsupported by other forms of gaming. Today, Mobile Greyhound Park is only one of two.”
The track in Mobile has been unable to explore additional revenue streams because most of those “other forms of gaming” are illegal in the state of Alabama. In 2015, Mobile County Racing Commissioner Edward Menton told Lagniappe tracks without those additional revenues have consistently gone out of business around the country since the 1990s.
Although slightly, the end of live dog racing will impact a number of local municipalities, public education institutions and pension funds for first responders that receive an allocated portion of the tax revenues that proceeds from live dog races generate.
The racing commission collects 7 percent of the proceeds from live races and 2 percent of proceeds from simulcast races. At one time, those proceeds brought in annual tax revenues of up to $8 million, but those receipts have fallen dramatically over the past 25 years.
More directly impacted are the employees who facilitate live races at the dog track.
According to PCI, approximately 30 employees will be affected by the end of live dog racing, though a press release said the company was “fully prepared to assist each team member with locating and applying for opportunities at other Wind Creek Hospitality facilities including Pensacola Greyhound Park and Wind Creek Casino and Hotel in Atmore.”
The racing commission, which is tasked with regulating dog races and managing the tax revenue it generates, also has employees who work directly with live racing dogs. In 2015, the commission listed 8 full-time staff members employed as coordinators, race inspectors and race judges along with a handful of part-time veterinary positions.
At this point, it’s unclear how those employees will be affected. Lagniappe reached out to the Racing Commission but did not receive a response as of this publication’s press deadline.As for the dogs, PCI says it plans to assist kennel owners with the relocation, adoption and ongoing care for the “approximately 400 greyhounds” that still “provide service” to the race track. Some of those, according to PCI, may be moved to other race tracks around the country.
“We routinely place over 600 greyhounds each year through Mobile Greyhound Pet Adoption Kennel, and we have relationships with approximately a dozen other adoption agencies across the country that will help with placement,” PCI said in a prepared statement. “We have implemented a program which will support kennels with care, feeding, housing and veterinary services while each greyhound is matched to a suitable new environment.”
Anyone interested in adopting a greyhound should reach out to the Mobile Greyhound Pet Adoption Kennel at 251-653- 5000, Ext 102, for more details on the program.