With the closure of Wimbledon greyhound stadium in March 2017, London now has no greyhound tracks. UK-wide, gross win from betting on greyhound racing has fallen by 30% since 2008/2009 and now stands at GB£ 226 million. But this is not just a UK issue. In gambling markets around the world greyhound racing and associated betting is facing a fight for survival.
In the United States there are fewer than 20 operational racetracks. 12 of these tracks are located in Florida, for the simple reason that a greyhound racing permit is required if an operator wishes to run casino gambling. In 2017 a bill that sought to remove this regulatory link failed. The failure of the bill probably saved several loss-making greyhound tracks in the Sunshine State.
Florida’s handle on greyhound racing was almost US$ 700 million in 1998/99. By 2014/15 handle had declined to just under US$ 250 million, a drop of 64%.
Greyhound racing in Australia is still a sizeable betting market with more than AUS$ 3 billion in betting turnover. But investigations into animal welfare issues in 2015 resulted in New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) banning greyhound racing. The NSW’s ban was due to apply from 1 July 2017 but was reversed at the end of 2016. Instead racing will continue at fewer tracks, with fewer races and a breeding cap. It is possible that ACT might also reconsider its outright ban. It is clear, however, that governments are not in favour of supporting greyhound racing in their states.
Even in the gambling crucible of Macau, betting on greyhound racing is in steep decline. Although always a small part of the market where casinos dominate, betting on greyhounds in Macau had a respectable turnover of MOP 985 million in 2012 (approx. US$ 125 million). In 2016 that betting turnover had fallen to just MOP 335 million (US$41 million).
With ever more gambling products competing for gamblers’ attention, it is difficult to forecast a recovery in greyhound racing’s fortunes. The next generation of punters is more likely to be watching drones zooming round a track rather than dogs.