Sides square off on Greyhound racing ban in Florida


  • Photo by Jeremy Reper
A Leon County circuit judge is scheduled to hear arguments next week in a battle about a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban greyhound racing at Florida dog tracks.

The Florida Greyhound Association, which represents breeders and owners of racing dogs, filed a lawsuit in May seeking to keep the proposed constitutional amendment off the November ballot. The group contends that the measure, which was placed on the ballot by the state Constitution Revision Commission, is misleading and inaccurate.

But attorneys for the state responded in a court filing last week and contended that the plaintiffs have “failed to meet their substantial burden” to block what is known as Amendment 13 from going on the ballot.

“Because the ballot title and summary for the amendment provide ample notice to the electorate using clear and unambiguous language, this court should reject plaintiffs’ challenge and grant summary judgment in favor of defendants,” the state filing said.

If the amendment receives approval from 60 percent of voters, it would outlaw greyhound racing at Florida tracks by 2020. Tracks would continue to be able to operate other types of gambling, such as poker rooms and, in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, slot machines.

In a motion for summary judgment filed July 6, the greyhound association raised a series of arguments about flaws in the ballot title and summary, which are what voters see when they go to the polls. For example, the plaintiffs took issue with a description that the proposal “ends dog racing” because people in Florida would still be able to bet on greyhound races simulcasted from other states and people could still legally race dogs in Florida if betting did not occur.

Circuit Judge Karen Gievers has scheduled a final hearing in the case July 26, according to an online docket.

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