The Naples-Ft Meyers Greyhound Track is actually located in Bonita Springs; follow that? Bonita Springs, Florida is between Naples (to the south) and Ft Meyers (to the north). They recently announced that Greyhound racing will be on a seasonal basis rotating with a track in Miami (Flagler) both of which are owned by Southwest Florida Enterprises.
Although the Bonita based track has a casino which offers poker (only), the drop in dog racing is similar to a drop in horse racing around the country. As casino gambling sprouts all over America and along with demographic changes (dog & horse racing skews to an older demographic), business is down at these tracks. Greyhound racing has always been popular in the sunshine state which has about one third of all tracks in the United States. The Bonita based track had a 13% drop in business in the 2008-2009 fiscal year from the year prior. Last year’s revenue was around $32 million and $42 million was brought in the 2005-2006 season. During that course of time, Florida casinos were growing and spreading throughout the state and appeals to a wide and varied demographic.
The same as I stated above is happening elsewhere with horse racing. In my home state of Ohio, which just last year, finally, passed gambling legislation which will allow several casinos in various cities around the state including my home town of Cincinnati. 20 minutes outside of that city is Lawrenceburg, Indiana, home of the very popular Argosy Casino. At one point a few years back, Argosy was the most popular riverboat casino in America; that is saying something. Indiana has had casino gambling for years now and so many people from the surrounding states, especially Ohio and Kentucky, swarm there to spend money. As a result, horse racing in Ohio and Kentucky began to suffer. People prefer playing slots and other games available at the casinos.
Over the course of time, progress forces people to move on from what used to be popular. Trains gave way to airplanes (although rail travel is making something of a comeback). Football in many ways, has overtaken baseball as America’s favorite pasttime. Boxing has floundered in recent years. Dog and horse racing was a form of entertainment and, for many, the only common way to legally wager some money. I grew up in a country where Las Vegas was really the only place to go for gambling but as we know, that has changed and legalized casino gambling can be found all over the United States. There’s still no place like Vegas but I seriously doubt dog and horse racing will make any kind of return to it’s glory days. Even protesters now appear at Florida dog tracks because they consider this form of racing to be harsh and cruel to animals. Inside Greyhound racing circles, they say year-round dog racing diluted the quality of Greyhound racing and that is part of the spin in going back to a seasonal rotation. That is, excuse the expression, ‘inside baseball’ kind of info; the masses will never know if Greyhounds will run better in a partial season because they will be at the casino playing games with a bit more excitement, bells and whistles.