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By the end of 2022, live Greyhound racing will no longer be held in the state of Arkansas as Southland Casino Racing and the Arkansas Greyhound Kennel Association agreed to a phase-out the operations.
Although interest in Greyhound racing and live race attendance has all but disintegrated in recent years, Arkansas remained one of 6 states still operating a Greyhound track and holding live races. Despite low attendance and lack of profit from racing, Arkansas’ only Greyhound racetrack, Southland Casino, was required to consistently hold live races in order to keep their casino license and legally operate slot machines, poker, and other wagering games.
Last November, Florida became the 41st state to ban the sport entirely, with all operations in the state being phased-out by December 31, 2020. And, while no legislation has specifically banned Greyhound racing in Arkansas, under threat of a similar campaign to ban racing in the state, Southland Casino Racing and the Arkansas Greyhound Kennel Association agreed to preemptively phase-out racing after voters approved an amendment that lifted the live racing requirement, allowing casino gambling to operate without live Greyhound races.
The Arkansas Racing Commission unanimously approved a plan by Southland Casino Racing and the Arkansas Greyhound Kennel Association to end greyhound racing at the West Memphis track by Dec. 31, 2022.
The track, which held 6,656 races this year, will reduce that number to 4,992 in 2020, 3,994 in 2021 and to 2,662 in 2022 when they’ll be entirely discontinued. David Wolf, Southland’s president and GM, said the three year phase-out will give kennel owners time to adopt out and rehome the roughly 1,200 greyhounds that race at the track.
“It’s now clear that greyhound racing will end completely in the United States,” said Greyhound advocacy and protection group GREY2K executive director Carey Theil. “The greyhound debate will now turn to West Virginia, where lawmakers will vote on whether to end $15 million in annual subsidies for dog racing.”