The legal status and difficult future of greyhound racing
Next year will be the centenary of the opening of the world’s first commercial greyhound racing track, built in Emeryville, California1. At the time, the town, wedged between Berkeley and Oakland, was a haven for gambling dens, speakeasies and brothels and thus it was thought a greyhound circuit would fit snugly.
Emeryville, where the building of its first dog track predated its first church by 40 years, would later be called the “rottenest city on the Pacific” by US Chief Justice Earl Warren. The track would however only host races for a few months in 1919 as a federal crackdown on illicit gambling and bootlegging ruined the night at the dogs for the e’villes, as the locals liked to call themselves.
But greyhound racing would soon thrive in other parts of the US, notably in Florida, which, post-Prohibition, was one of the first states to legalise gambling on the greyhounds in 1931.
Today, greyhound racing has been illegal for decades in its original state of California and last month Florida banned betting on the sport2. This means that as we approach its centenary as an industry, the sport is effectively dead in the US. And the prognosis internationally is equally grim.
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- Tags: Animal Welfare | Australia | Gambling | Governance | Greyhound racing | Mexico | New Zealand | Regulation | United Kingdom (UK) | United States of America (USA)
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About the Author
Jack Anderson is Professor and Director of Sports Law Studies at the University of Melbourne. The sports law program at Melbourne was one of the first to be established globally in the mid-1980 and continues to expand at the Melbourne Law School, which itself is ranked in the top 10 law schools globally.
Jack has published widely in the area including monographs such as The Legality of Boxing (Routledge 2007) and Modern Sports Law (Hart 2010) and edited collections such as Landmark Cases in Sports Law (Asser 2013) and EU Sports Law (Edward Elgar 2018 with R Parrish and B Garcia). He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal from 2013 to 2016.
Jack is a former member of CAS (2016-2019). He is currently a member and arbitrator for World Athletics’ Disciplinary Tribunal, the National Sports Tribunal of Australia and the Football Federation of Victoria. He is a member of International Hockey Federation’s Integrity Unit and Basketball Australia’s National Integrity Advisory Committee. in 2019, he was appointed to the International Tennis Federation’s Ethics Commission and is currently a Board Member of Harness Racing Victoria.