Lawmakers Grapple With Oregon’s Enabling Animal Cruelty in Greyhound Racing

A lot of animals get hurt, a new report shows, and Oregon makes peanuts while enabling a massive amount of betting.

Greyhound (WW Archives)

Two years after then-Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) thought he’d ended betting on greyhound racing in Oregon, the House Committee on Gambling Regulation is still trying to make that goal a reality.

As WW has reported, a tiny state agency, the Oregon Racing Commission, facilitates the vast majority of online wagering on horses and greyhounds in the U.S.—and that includes betting at dozens of tracks overseas. Despite booking $6.6 billion in bets in 2023, however, the companies in the online animal betting business paid Oregon only a few million dollars last year (“Track Addicts,” WW, May 17, 2023).

The bill Courtney passed in 2021 left some unresolved ambiguity—about who could bet where—that lawmakers and the Oregon Department of Justice have since worked to resolve. On Feb. 6, the gambling committee chair, Rep. John Lively (D-Springfield), said he still had a simple goal with House Bill 4051: “We are trying to resolve once and for all greyhound racing in Oregon.”

To provide context, Lively’s committee published the first-ever version of a document Courtney and Rep. David Gomberg (D-Otis) demanded: a racing commission review of animal safety and state revenues from greyhounds.

Here’s what the state report found:


That’s the amount of money that bettors from all over the country wagered in 2023 on greyhounds through the Oregon Racing Commission, via “advance-deposit wagering,” a form of internet gambling that Oregon pioneered in the 1990s to prop up horse and greyhound tracks in the state. (It failed: The state’s last dog track, Multnomah Greyhound Park, closed 20 years ago, and its biggest horse track, Portland Meadows, folded in 2019.)


That’s the total amount of revenue the state of Oregon reaped in 2023 from greyhound betting. That total includes not only ADW betting over the internet, but also a share of the bets made at 10 off-track betting parlors located around the state. Off-track betting operators testified last week they’d suffer terribly if the state bans betting on greyhounds. “The proposed legislation threatens the livelihood of our business,” testified Brian Sarchi, who runs New Portland Meadows, a card room and OTB bar on North Lombard Street. “Dog racing serves as a form of entertainment for our patrons, many of whom are senior citizens. For them, it is not merely about placing bets on races; it is a cherished outlet for social interaction, enjoyment and a sense of community.”


That’s the number of documented canine injuries in 2023 at greyhound tracks where Oregon facilitated bets. Of that number, only 555 took place in the U.S. That’s because only one state—West Virginia—still hosts greyhound racing. The fact that so many states have banned the sport hasn’t stopped Oregon from doing its best to keep the sport alive globally. Carey Theil, a former Oregonian who now heads Grey2K, a Massachusetts-based group that advocates for the end of dog racing, says listening to advocates for betting on animals imploring lawmakers last week to preserve Oregon’s dominant position in greyhound betting was dispiriting. “It was bizarre to listen to all this testimony about how important Oregon is to the greyhound industry,” Theil says. “Yet it brings in almost no money to the state, while propping up a cruel industry that injured more than 10,000 dogs last year.”

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