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Gaetz said that while passing a bill calling for decoupling might make sense to most lawmakers, there is a danger inherent in all gaming legislation that gambling interests will attempt to attach their own proposals.

That could make the decoupling effort "unpalatable" to otherwise supportive legislators, Gaetz said.

The move could sound a slow death knell for an industry that has lost money for years and been tarnished by grisly evidence of abuse of the dogs.

Grey2K's Theil said if decoupling legislation is passed in Florida this year he gave it a 50 50 chance some greyhound tracks will be shut down. Others, like Ebro, will cut their number of races and still others will make no change.

If the legislation passes, Hess said Ebro Greyhound Park likely will cut the number of races on its schedule.

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"If the permit holder wants to reduce performances or eliminate them, he should have that option," Hess said. "It would be beneficial to our business to be able to operate at the most profitable times."

Still, Theil said the sport will continue to decline as its aging fan base continues to slip away.

"There are dire threats to live racing in Florida," he said. "Decoupling could be detrimental to the industry and to dog owners and breeders."

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"I do believe greyhound decoupling will end greyhound racing in Florida, but it will not happen overnight," said Carey Theil, executive director of Grey2K USA, an influential nonprofit greyhound protection organization. "I can envision it taking as long as a decade to wind down."

Just 21 tracks remain open in the entire United States. Twelve of those are in Florida.

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Greyhound racing, a Florida mainstay since 1922, could face its demise if a group of lawmakers that includes state Rep. Matt Gaetz can convince their brethren to support "decoupling."

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State regulations require that Ebro put on 100 performances basically a group of races in a single event package annually plus additional performances to maintain its license to run a poker room. The total performance number is 167, Hess said.

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"If we can keep the special interests at bay we can do the right thing by the dogs," he said. Humane Society appear to back up assertions that the popularity of greyhound racing is in sharp decline.

The national Greyhound Racing Association, which represents the dog racing industry, breeders and owners, fears the same thing.

"There are many in the leadership of the state House, myself included, who want to see us move in that direction," he said.

Take a look at a greyhound decoupling fact sheet. >>

To decouple, lawmakers would have to eliminate an existing statute that dictates how many annual greyhound racing "performances" track owners must hold in order to keep other, more profitable gambling operations like poker rooms open.

"The state lost between $1 Converse Trainers Mens and $3.3 million on the sport in 2012," Grey2K says.

Track losses have translated to a heavy, 98 percent reduction in taxes and fees collected from greyhound racing since 1990, according to the fact sheet. That year, $76 million in taxes and fees went to the state. In 2013, just $1.5 million was collected.

While no decoupling legislation has been introduced yet, Matt Gaetz said he expects the House will follow the Senate lead and take "a serious look at decoupling" this legislative session.

as we see fit," Hess said.


But Stocky Hess, the president and general manager of Ebro Greyhound Park and Poker Room in Washington County, is OK with the idea of decoupling.

"The way we see it, we want the option to have as many racing days Black Converse Wedges Ebay

´╗┐Future of greyhound racing at stake DOCUMENTS

on greyhound racing dropped by 72 percent between 1990 and 2013, Grey2K USA says on a webpage fact sheet. Florida tracks lost a combined $35 million in 2012.

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Gaetz said he can't fathom how the state can force a private business to keep a money losing venture open.

Decoupling the sportwould disentangle it from other forms of betting and free the owners of places like the Ebro Greyhound Park and Poker Room to operate their struggling greyhound tracks without the stringent state government oversight that exists today.

That's why it and its Florida subsidiary stand "very opposed" to any decoupling legislation, according to spokesman Gary Guccione.

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He said while fewer races could mean less pressure for the dogs at Ebro and other smaller tracks, the ongoing push to increase the profit margin in greyhound racing could lead track owners "to cut costs where it comes to animal welfare."

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"We're forcing a company to do what they don't want to do by maintaining something people don't want to participate in that happens to be barbaric," he Converse All Star Uk Cheap

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