The first greyhound racing courses in America opened in the 1920s. Americans didn’t start betting on dog races until the 1930s, borrowing the rules and jargon of horse race betting. Greyhound racing developed out of the practice of dog breeding, and the two activities are still closely intertwined.
There’s a sad national trend in greyhound racing – tracks are closing, states are banning the races, and even in those states where the sport is legal, profits are down. At one point in the 1980s, the United States was home to 55 live greyhound racing courses. That number is now down to 18. That said, five US states still host live greyhound races, and the sport is alive and well in Florida, with a dozen tracks featuring live races year-round.
This page is dedicated entirely to greyhound racing and race betting. We’ll cover the basics, then show you where in the country you can still bet on greyhound races.
The object of betting on greyhounds is the same as the object of blackjack or any other gambling game – to beat the house at their own game. You can bet via simulcast, you can place bets online or at sports books, or you can bet live.
Placing a bet at the dog track is simple – you wait in line, then when you get to the window, you simply state what you’re betting on, the type of bet, and the amount you’re betting. It might sound something like this: “$2 win, number 6.” That is a wager that dog number 6 will win outright. Your payout depends on the odds established for the particular animal and race. Using the example we just came up with, if dog number 6 manages to win outright at 4:1 odds, your payout would be $10.
The trick is learning the various types of bets, how they work, and how much they payout. In the section below, you’ll find a guide to the most common types of bets at the dog track. Take note that different tracks may have slightly different names or layouts for these wagers, though for the most part these are standard at American tracks.
A “straight-up wager,” or a bet at given odds on an outright winner. This is by far the most common bet at the dog track.
Pays off if your selected dog finishes either first or second. Payouts are split between the first and second place finisher, so you’ll win half the payout of a successful Win bet.
Pays off if your selected dog finished first, second, or third. Since payouts are split between the first three finishers, you’ll win about a third what you’d win for a successful Win bet.
Across the Board
This is actually a combo bet made up of three individual bets. You bet on one dog to win, place, and show. If your dog wins, you collect on all three bets; if the dog comes in second you collect on two bets; if the dog comes in third, you collect on the show bet. The total wager is equal to three times each individual bet, so that calling out a $2 Across the Board will actually set you back $6.
This isn’t one specific kind of bet; instead, it’s a category of wagers covering two, three, or four greyhounds to win in a specific order. Popular combo bets include:
This is dog racing’s version of a multiple pool bet. The bettor makes two different trifecta selections in two different races. It works like this – if you select a winning Trifecta in a race, you can choose to exchange that ticket for a second Trifecta bet on the very next race. All these bets are placed into a pool – half of that pool is paid out equally to winners of the first half of the bet, and the remaining half plus carry-over goes to winners of the second half. Here’s the fun part – quite often, no one pulls off the second Trifecta, and the pool carries over to the next pool performance.
A special bet, similar to an accumulator, in which bettors pick the winners of the day’s first and second races. You have to place both bets before the first race starts. Odds are longer, and payouts are higher.
Some tracks establish a special jackpot prize – usually in the millions – that they’ll pay out to anyone who can pick the winners of six consecutive races. Note that rules and payouts vary greatly from track to track.
Like a parlay in football or any other sport, this requires that bettors make simultaneous selections on two or more races, and then “pressing” the winnings of the first win onto the bet of the following race, and so on until the parlay ticket is complete. All selections must win for the ticket to pay off. The larger the parlay, the longer the odds and the higher your potential payout.
A special jackpot (usually low six figures) paid out for picking the winners of three consecutive races.
Home to just one greyhound race track featuring live races, Iowa isn’t exactly a race betting hotspot. The track in Iowa doesn’t even operate year-round. Two recent track closings (at Mystique and Bluffs Run) might signal the end of the Iowa greyhound race industry entirely.
In the 1980s, Iowa voters approved live and simulcast greyhound race betting due to overwhelming support among the public. Iowa was once home to a half-dozen live racing tracks which produced hundreds of millions of dollars for the state in tax revenue. According to Iowa’s AG’s office, greyhound racing income is down about 90 percent from its peak in the late 1980s.
A curious fact about the state’s racing industry – Iowa subsidizes the breeding of racing greyhounds at sixty Iowa farms and breeding facilities. These subsidies are derived entirely from the state’s gambling tax revenue. All told, the state hands out about $14 million a year. Some breeders have recently had their benefits cut as part of a program to revive the racing at Iowa Greyhound Park – 50% of the funds previous earmarked for Greyhound breeding now go directly to the park for improvements and aggressive advertising campaigns. A portion of this money is also donated to greyhound welfare and adoption programs, with animals placed through both local and national networks.
Iowa Greyhound Park
Address: 1899 Greyhound Park Drive, Dubuque, Iowa 52001
Iowa is home to just one live greyhound racetrack. Located at 1899 Greyhound Park Drive in Dubuque, the Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque operates from May to October, averaging 94 races a year. The Iowa Greyhound Park is home to ten kennels, and the live races and accompanying betting are regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. For the year 2014, visitors to the park bet a total of $5,323,955, which represented about a 10% decline from the previous year, according to officials from the Racing and Gaming Commission. 2013 was the last year that the track operated beginning in March – the reduced number of races at the track is responsible for the decline in income.
There is no minimum age to visit the park and watch the races, and no admission fee. If you want to place a bet, you must be at least 21 and show proof of age with an approved form of ID. Food and beverage service is only available on the weekends. A small casino area is available, featuring slot and video poker-style machine games and a smoking section.
West Virginia is home to two live greyhound racing courses. Both properties are allowed to host gaming machines (styled after slot and video poker games), and money from those machines profits help support greyhound and thoroughbred racing in the state. West Virginia’s racing industry, like that in the rest of the United States, is struggling financially, facing a major reduction in both visitors and spending.
West Virginia law allows for greyhound breeding both in and out of state. West Virginia breeders whelp about 1,000 greyhound puppies a year, using government subsidies of about $5 million a year. Those subsidies are drawn from gaming proceeds, as determined by the West Virginia Racing Commission. In 2014, the most recent year for which we have such numbers, live greyhound racing brought in some $15 million to the state, an overall decline of three percent from the previous year.
Address: 1 S Stone St, Wheeling, WV 26003
Wheeling Island operates year-round. Racing occurs about 280 days a year at Wheeling Island, and about 700 greyhounds are kenneled at the facility at any given time. A few dozen slot and video poker-style machine games are housed in an on-site “racino.” Food and beverage service takes place at all hours of operation. Simulcast betting takes place on racing days only.
Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
Address: 1 Greyhound Dr, Cross Lanes, WV 25313
Greyhound races at Mardi Gras Casino & Resort operate year-round. Racing takes place about 275 days a year at Mardi Gras Casino & Resort, and the facility is home to some 800 dogs. Simulcast betting takes place seven days a week, even on days where no live races are scheduled.
Arkansas is home to just one active greyhound racing track. The state’s ties to the modern live racing industry are almost entirely due to existing racino laws allowing slot and video poker-style gaming at live horse and greyhound races. Income at the state’s lone horse track, like income at the state’s greyhound track, comes almost entirely from the on-site racinos.
All greyhound racing in the state of Arkansas is regulated by the Arkansas Racing Commission. This body works to enforce the state’s ever-changing racing rules and gaming regulations. The state closely monitors its many provisions for racing procedures, and maintains a tight hold on licensing. In 2013, the most recent year we have figures for, the total amount wagered on live greyhound racing in Arkansas was $18 million and change. When you consider that as recently as 2005 the handle was over $33 million, it’s easy to predict the eventual course of Arkansas dog racing.
Southland Park Gaming & Racing
Address: 1550 Ingram Blvd, West Memphis, AR 72301
West Memphis, Arkansas is the last place in the state where you can wager on greyhound races. The good news is, races occur year-round, four days a week on most weeks. It’s a busy track, average 5,000 races or so. An average of 1,200 greyhounds are kenneled at the track at any given time. The attached racino section is home to video poker-style games, slot-style games, and a café and bar, and a smoking section.
Alabama is home to two greyhound tracks, the Birmingham Race Course in Birmingham and Mobile Greyhound Park in Theodore. Both tracks conduct greyhound races all year, three or four days a week depending on the season. These are relatively small tracks with equally small kennels – just 400 greyhounds on average live at both tracks. Both tracks are home to six kennels, far fewer than at most US dog tracks.
Alabama is unique in that it doesn’t have a centralized racing authority to regulate or police the state’s two tracks. Instead, both tracks are regulated by their own commission set up at the county level and run like a municipal regulatory body. Both the Mobile County Racing Commission and the Birmingham Racing Commission have a set of racing rules and regulations, and they report their earnings separately. In 2014, the most recent year we have such figures for, the state’s two tracks reported total sales of $14.5 million. Both tracks are in a slow decline, reporting reductions in profits each year for the past twelve in a row.
Birmingham Race Course
Address: 1000 John Rogers Dr, Birmingham, AL 35235
Live greyhound races take place three or four days a week, year-round, depending on the race schedule. Simulcast betting takes place every day beginning at 11 AM. Simulcast bettors can wager regardless of the day’s live racing schedule. An attached bar includes a billiards and darts lounge, and bettors can also retire to an adjacent driving range featuring a broadcast of results.
Mobile Greyhound Park
Address: 7101 Old Pascagoula Rd, Theodore, AL 36582
Live greyhound races take place on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, every week of the year. Simulcast betting is available from 11 AM to 11 PM most days, though simulcast events close early on Sundays and randomly throughout the year for maintenance.
Florida is the traditional home of greyhound racing, and the state is still the most active in the sport by far. Twelve greyhound tracks currently operate in Florida, though some are seasonal. In Florida, you must host at least 100 live racing events each year to maintain your racing license. As a result, even the seasonal properties host a number of races and generate a lot of local buzz. Florida’s poker law allowing the operation of certain games of poker drives even more people to the state’s many tracks. Statewide, some 8,000 greyhounds compete at the state’s many tracks, all of which maintain state of the art kennel compounds.
All greyhound racing in Florida is controlled by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Dog racing is still big business in Florida – the total amount gambled on live racing averages $93 million. That’s still about a fifty percent decrease from the sports’ heyday of the late 1980s
Daytona Beach Greyhound Park
Address: 960 S. Williamson Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Open all year long for racing and poker, with a restaurant open limited hours and a snack bar serving at all hours of live racing. Open 10 AM – 4 AM, though races occur just three days a week, starting at 11 AM. Poker tournaments occur hourly with buy-ins that range from $100 to $500.
Address: 10490 Grandy Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL
Derby Lane is an historic site, the oldest continuously-operating greyhound track in the world. Races occur year-round, as does the poker room. The on-site restaurant serves a dinner buffet from 4:45 to 9:30 PM on weekends, and a matinee brunch from 11 AM to 2:30 PM on Saturdays. The poker room operates from 9 AM to 3 AM, except on weekends when it operates around the clock.
Ebro Greyhound Park
Address: 6558 Dog Track Road, Ebro, FL 32437
Open from May to September (the heart of tourist season), Ebro Greyhound Park also offers a poker room. Live racing and poker both shut down between October and April, and the site sites dormant. Simulcast bets are available at all times of operation. All races take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with a special Monday race to end each season.
Address: 450 NW 37th Avenue, Miami, FL 33125
Magic City has been a vibrant greyhound race track for more than 80 years. These days, it also offers the largest concentration of gaming machines in Miami. Racing takes place June to October only, though the attached racino (featuring 1,000 slot- and video poker-style games) and simulcast betting take place year-round. Magic City hosts few live racing events, a few hundred a year, mostly to keep their gaming and poker license.
Best Bet Jacksonville
Address: 455 Park Avenue, Orange Park, FL 32073
Another year-round Florida greyhound track with a significant history, Best Bet has been in the business for decades, and only recently added a racino and poker room to compete for the new influx of business to live dog racing events. Best Bet takes things a bit further than other Florida dog tracks when it comes to dining, offering two restaurants and a sushi bar, open at most hours of operation.
Mardi Gras Casino
Address: 831 N. Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach, FL
Mardi Gras Casino is actually a racino with an attached poker room, all built around a central greyhound racing course. The site is open for live racing from December to April, but the poker, gaming, and dining options on-site remain open year-round. Mardi Gras Casino is something of a local’s joint, built away from the freeway and closed for most of tourist season. During racing season, Tuesday and Wednesday are simulcast-only.
Melbourne Greyhound Park
Address: 1100 N Wickham Rd., Melbourne, FL 32935
An hour east of Orlando on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, Melbourne Greyhound Park hosts live racing, gaming, and poker year-round. Live and simulcast racing occurs from 10 AM to 2AM every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The venue’s 38-table poker room is one of the largest in the state. An on-site comedy club, Club 52, regularly hosts the country’s top comedians.
Naples / Ft. Meyers Greyhound Racing & Poker
Address: 10601 Bonita Beach Rd., Bonita Springs, FL
Live greyhound racing takes place at Naples / Ft. Meyers Greyhound Racing & Poker between November and April only, though simulcast betting and the poker room are open year-round. The site’s poker room features daily and weekly tournaments, a snack bar, and Early Bird hours as well as special late-night weekend events.
Sanford Orlando Kennel Club
Address: 301 Dog Track Road, Longwood, FL 32750
Year-round live greyhound racing is the true star of the show at the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club – simulcast betting is also available year-round, but you won’t find any poker or gaming at this track. Parking, even valet parking, is free, as is general admission. Admission to the Clubhouse starts at just $2 on weekdays. Sanford Orlando has been continuously operating since 1935.
Palm Beach Kennel Club
Address: 1111 North Congress Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach is said to have some of the best weather in the world, so no surprise that the Palm Beach Kennel Club is open for live racing five days a week, all year long. The site is also home to two dozen poker tables, poker tournaments on the weekend, a racino with slot- and video poker-style games, and two restaurants.
Pensacola Greyhound Track
Address: 951 Dog Track Road, Pensacola, FL 32506
Pensacola Greyhound Track doesn’t host live races all year long – in fact, live racing is limited to the months of November through April. The poker room and racino at this site are open year-round, and far outpace the popularity of the few hundred lives races held at the venue each year. The poker room is one of the largest on the east coast, with forty tables open 24 hours a day on the weekends, every week of the year.
Sarasota Kennel Club
Address: 5400 Bradenton Rd., Sarasota, FL 34234
Just off University Parkway in Sarasota, this kennel club is one of the newest in the state. Live racing is available all year long, every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Simulcast betting is a big draw here, with hundreds of screens broadcasting races from all over the world. The poker room is on the small side, but remains open 24 hours a day on the weekends.
Colorado is home to seven facilities that allow simulcast betting:
Connecticut is home to twelve OTB facilities allowing simulcast greyhound race betting:
Idaho has three venues that allow simulcast greyhound race betting:
Massachusetts is home to four simulcast greyhound race betting venues:
Six locations allow OTB / simulcast greyhound race betting in Montana:
Four venues allow simulcast bets on greyhound races in New Hampshire:
1265 Laconia Rd, Belmont, NH 03220
79 Rockingham Park Blvd, Salem, NH 03079
319 New Zealand Rd, Seabrook, NH 03874
688 Brattleboro Road, Hinsdale, NH 03451-0027
Seven North Dakota clubs allow OTB wagers on simulcast greyhound racing events:
Oregon is home to nine OTBs that allow simulcast wagers on greyhound racing:
One location in Rhode Island offers simulcast betting on greyhound races:
Two venues allow bets on simulcast greyhound races in South Dakota:
Two OTB sites allowing greyhound wagers are open in Wisconsin:
You can place bets on simulcast greyhound races in Wyoming at four locations:
Greyhound racing is not a purely-American sport. Commercial greyhound racing as a form of legalized gambling, under regulation by a governing body, takes place in eight countries around the world, as well as twenty-one countries where regulations aren’t all that tight. It’s a popular pastime that’s existed in this country for nearly 100 years. Though the sport is in decline, it is still a big deal in the five US states where live races are legal, and in more than a dozen states that allow simulcast betting on races in other states. So far, greyhound racing has yet to make a huge splash online, though you can wager on greyhound races through some of the more popular online sportsbooks.
The sport’s future depends on a few factors. A few states are seriously considering legislation that would all but wipe out greyhound racing from coast to coast. Still other states, like Texas, are considering expanding their offerings, opening up new tracks, revitalizing old ones, and jumping back in with both feet. Pay close attention to legislation pending in West Virginia, Texas, and Louisiana for more on the future of one of America’s favorite games of chance.
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