TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – The bill that could spell the end of greyhound racing in the Sunshine State cleared the Senate Friday but an amendment is sending it right back to the House.
HB 1145 would eliminate the requirement for dog tracks to run races if they want to operate card rooms, according to The News Service of Florida.
The amended version of that proposal would phase out the card room requirement as opposed to just ending it automatically. To accomplish that, the state would gradually reduce tax breaks for the dog tracks, making the phasing out plan easier to handle for breeders and dog owners.
“I didn’t want to have them look at 125 dogs and say, “Get these dogs out of here tomorrow; we’re not feeding them anymore,” said Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach.
The amended bill passed 25-14, with two Democrats and 12 Republicans opposing the measure.
If approved in the House, the bill would go to Governor Rick Scott.
Dog racing’s popularity has decreased over the years as the pari-mutuel card rooms thrived.
Senators opposed to doing away with dog racing say it would cause casinos to expand and blow out pari-mutuel establishments altogether.
“If that’s the intent of the bill, for the industry to go away, then maybe the pari-mutuels should go away as well,” said Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, who chairs the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
The supporters of the bill say they just want to bring an end to an already dying industry.
“What I think it is, is a recognition of economic reality,” said Sen. Don Gaetz, an anti-gambling Republican from Niceville.