On August 30th, 2008, the weakening U.S. pari-mutuel racing industry is feeling the burden if last weekend’s closure of the Woodlands in Wyandotte County. The resulting economic damage reaches beyond the dog racing and thoroughbred racing track’s one hundred eighty employees who have lost their livelihood.
Gary Guccione, the executive director of the National Greyhound Association said that the situation is worse than expected. Guccione expects that with the demise of pari-mutuel racing in the state of Kansas, that there will be more clamor to move the sport’s headquarters to the state of Florida, the country’s top dog-racing state, which features more than a dozen racing tracks.
Others in the racing industry in Kansas are already relocating in greener pastures. Gary Smith, the managing partner of MSM Equine Group LLC, a thoroughbred ownership group based in Olathe said that they will be relocating in the state of Illinois.
Smith, who is a board member and the former president of the Kansas Thoroughbred Association commented that the effect of no racing events in Kansas affect hundreds of small businesses in Kansas like racing teams, horse haulers, feed and tack stores, veterinarians and others. Smith said that if the trend continues, there racing industry in Kansas will really die.
Since 1975, more than fifty Midwestern greyhound kennels have utilized Maurice Flynn’s Abilene Greyhound Park all year round to teach their pups on how to race. Flynn commented that his non-gaming training track offers the only mechanical training lure in the five state area. But the demise of dog racing dog racing in states like Kansas-where slot machines were not permitted to help racing tracks to cope up-has forced kennels to cut back on their breeding or shut down their business altogether.
Flynn said that the growing problem in recent years has cost him thirty percent of his customer base. He has raised prices to help cope up with the problem but it just made it tougher for his patrons.