TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Several lawmakers, on Wednesday, joined with animal-rights groups and two rescue dogs at a Capitol news conference calling for changes in the state’s decades-old greyhound racing industry—a sport that has seen waning popularity in recent year.

Under current state law, greyhound tracks are required to run races if they want to operate lucrative card rooms. Opponents of greyhound racing are renewing their efforts to end the requirement.

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“The only reason that we have greyhound racing in the state of Florida is that our laws require pari-mutuel facilities to engage in this barbaric practice simply to keep their licenses,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said.

Industry critics have tried unsuccessfully in the past to pass legislation to “de-couple” — or end the connection — between running races and offering other forms of gambling.

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Those critics hope decoupling would eventually end greyhound racing.

Lawmakers have also raised the possibility of addressing the issue in a broader debate about the state’s gambling laws during the upcoming legislative session.

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“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”