Greyhound Races at Southland Casino Racing to End in 2022
Live greyhound races to end
Live greyhound racing at the Southland Casino Racing facility in West Memphis will enter a phasing out period starting next year. The races offered at the facility are set to decrease over a three-year time frame.
The decision to put a stop to live greyhound races was made by Southland Casino Racing and the Arkansas Greyhound Kennel Association. The association unanimously approved the decision to phase out the racing activities along with the member kennels.
Reduction of races
In 2019, a total of 6,656 live races will have taken place. This is set to go down to 75% in 2020, which will equal 4,992 races. By 2021, the number will decrease to 60%, or 3,994 races. 2022, the last year of the live greyhound races, will include only 2,662 events.
The agreement is part of an effort by Southland to no longer have to offer live greyhound racing to keep its casino license. The Arkansas Casino Gaming Amendment of 2018, approved by voters in the state last year, removes this requirement. Yet, the facility still needed the approval of the commission, which it received this week.
The member contracts of the kennel association with Southland will expire by the end of 2019. Discussions on new contracts have begun, with the parties concerned reviewing the current climate for greyhound racing and what it could mean for the future of racing in the state.
The president and general manager of Southland Casino Racing, David Wolf, stated that the facility and the kennel association have agreed that a decision should be made to provide certainty and clarity for the future. According to Mr Wolf, the new agreement would involve “ending live racing via an orderly process and on our own terms.”
The three-year phase-out period will also allow enough time to see around 1,200 racing greyhounds adopted.
End of an era
Southland Casino Racing has conducted live greyhound racing since it opened in 1956. The closure of the facility will be the end of a long era of racing for the region.
As live greyhound racing continues to decline in the United States, the few remaining tracks across the six states that currently hold such races struggle to attract visitors.
One of these states is West Virginia, where the greyhound racing industry is expected to lose a $15m racing subsidy due to a decline in revenues.