Grey2K USA has renewed its calls to Churchill Downs Inc. and its advanced deposit wagering service TwinSpires to stop accepting online wagers for greyhound racing.
The recent closure of Southland Park Racing in Arkansas for dog racing at the turn of the calendar year leaves two West Virginia tracks as the only ones conducting live greyhound racing in the U.S. The owner of both tracks, Delaware North, continues to operate them in large part because it receives nearly $17 million annually in state subsidies. Wagering on greyhound racing is already illegal in 42 states, with Iowa and Arkansas the latest to phase it out of existence.
“Everyone can see the handwriting on the wall: Dog racing is a dying industry,” said Christine Dorchak, president of Grey2k USA, in a phone interview with US Bets. “From a business point of view, it doesn’t make sense to keep offering it on the platform. It doesn’t compete with other forms of gambling, bets are being placed by older bettors, they are falling off, and younger bettors are coming along looking for higher stakes and faster pace. Dog racing just doesn’t make the cut.”
Grey2K USA launched a website Tuesday calling attention to Churchill Down’s continued acceptance of wagers on greyhounds. The Massachusetts-based group also singled out CDI for accepting wagers on international races from a Tijuana venue, Aqua Caliente, that it considers among the worst in the world.
Handle for greyhound racing still notable
Though Oregon has not hosted a greyhound race since 2004, Churchill Downs, via TwinSpires, conducts multistate advance deposit wagering (ADW) for both horse racing and greyhound racing through the Beaver State. It is a “multijurisdictional hub” for parimutuel betting. North Dakota is the only other state with such a status, but the bulk of ADW handle processing goes through Oregon.
The state’s nine licensees have accepted more than $5 billion worth of wagers through the first nine months of the year, according to the Oregon Racing Commission official website. Churchill Downs, doing business as TwinSpires, accounts for nearly 40% of that total with close to $2 billion.
The ORC does not separate horse racing and greyhound wagering handle by operator, but it notes separately that total greyhound racing handle for the 2022 calendar year was $101.6 million. In the six months since passage of SB 1504 that has not included enforcement by the state agency, that total is $45.1 million.
Churchill Downs also recently entered a partnership with DraftKings to offer a standalone mobile app, DK Horse, for wagering on horse racing, with plans to launch ahead of the Kentucky Derby in May. It is believed TwinSpires is the last major ADW licensee to offer wagering on greyhound racing, with TVG having dropped it from its platform last April.
TVG’s decision was in response to Oregon passing SB 1504, which for all intents and purposes restricts wagering on live greyhound racing to states only where it is lawful to place such wagers. SB 1504 took effect in July, but the ORC has yet to enforce it, leaving that decision to state licensees as it awaits a ruling from the Office of the Attorney General. The ORC previously noted in a fiscal note that enforcing the bill would result in an estimated $7 million in lost annual revenue.
“That is the latest wrinkle,” Dorchak said about her group raising public awareness because of the recently announced partnership between CDI and DraftKings. “DK Horse is a company that is registered here in Massachusetts, and we are in contact with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. We’re looking at all angles and why we’ve launched this international campaign to call attention to the fact that Churchill Downs, TwinSpires, is basically banking on the cruelty of dog racing and that no one will make a big deal of it.
“It is a big deal when thousands of greyhounds suffer and die while racing here in the U.S. and around the world.”
Inquiries met with silence
Dorchak has sent correspondence to CDI about discontinuing greyhound racing on its ADW platform and to DraftKings asking that it not be offered when DK Horse launches. That included a letter to DraftKings CEO Jason Robins last week. She said neither company has directly responded to her letters, though she noted Churchill Downs mobilized a lobbying effort in Oregon against SB1504 before it was passed last year.
Churchill Downs,, DraftKings, and the Oregon Racing Commission have not responded to requests for comment from US Bets for this article.
There is some frustration over the ORC’s decision to wait on the state AG’s ruling, and Dorchak said Grey2K USA would consider a ballot measure in the state next year if that was the needed course of action.
“One does not go into a proceeding lightly, and we have a very good record,” she said about pursuing ballot questions, having already done so in Massachusetts. “We’re the only organization that has brought a ballot question on dog racing before whole states and succeeded. We know we can win in Oregon and we have polling that Oregonians agree with our position.
“Do we need to pull that lever? We’re trying to work with the companies, encourage the companies to drop dog racing. That’s part of the effort. But if this does not succeed, then we must go to the ballot.”
In addition to action at the state level, Grey2K USA is pursing congressional action to outlaw greyhound racing, which would stop wagering on international races. It had some support in the last session for a bill, HR 3335, that must be re-filed with the newly sworn-in Congress. More importantly, dog track owner Delaware North declared itself neutral toward the previous version of the bill, as it wants to leave greyhound racing.
“[Dog racing] is something that belongs in the past,” Dorchak said. “What’s frustrating about the TwinSpires situation is that dog racing is not a long-term revenue channel for them. They have to know that. Why not do the right thing and say, ‘You’re right, dog racing is cruel and inhumane and we’re getting out of it’ just like TVG.
“I’m not sure why they’ve not responded to our inquiries and why there’s resistance to this idea that dog racing is something that belongs in the past.”