Ebro, other Florida tracks see lower revenue, attendance

Published: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 05:11 PM.

Track owners and dog advocates have found common ground in one area — encouraging the Florida Legislature to eliminate “decoupling.” The tracks see it as a way to increase their revenue, while the advocates are confident it will limit races, keeping more greyhounds off the track.

Right now, Florida has a “live-racing mandate,” Theil said, which requires tracks to run a certain number of races in order to operate a card room. Many say the mandate’s only propping up the live races.

That’s why both sides want to “decouple” — or remove — live-racing requirements for card rooms.

Theil called the rule “ridiculous” and said his group will continue fighting to eliminate it.

Hess said he supports decoupling and wants the option to hold as few race days as he likes. He said it was impossible to know whether he’d take advantage of a rule change, but he wants the choice.

All eyes will be on gaming when the Florida Legislature reconvenes next year. Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has repeatedly shown interest in passing a comprehensive gaming bill, and the Legislature has commissioned a nearly $390,000 study to study its impacts on the state.

 “When decoupling passes, you will see a slow, gradual wind down of the industry. I don’t think it will happen overnight; I don’t think it will happen in a few years. I think it will happen over a decade or more,” Theil said.

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