Gaetz and state Sen. Tom Lee, both members of the Constitutional Revision Committee, are listed as co-introducers of a measure “to prohibit wagering on greyhound or other dog races.”
Niceville resident and former state Senate President Don Gaetz has signed on in support of a measure to amend the Florida Constitution to do away with greyhound racing.
Gaetz and state Sen. Tom Lee, both members of the Constitutional Revision Committee convened early this year, are listed as co-introducers of a measure “to prohibit wagering on greyhound or other dog races.”
Gaetz called the gaming event known as the Sport of Kings “a cruel, abusive practice” and noted that twice when he served as Senate President he had proposed legislation to ban greyhound racing. Both times the measure had passed the Senate and failed in the House.
Then-House Speaker Will Weatherspoon had been hesitant to have a companion bill to his legislation brought up for consideration, Gaetz said, because doing so would allow for amendment proposals that could serve to expand all sorts of gambling opportunities in the state.
“He was afraid we could move from a very humane bill about greyhounds to amended legislation creating a dramatic expansion of casino gambling,” Gaetz said. “It was a real tragedy we couldn’t get a clean bill banning greyhound racing passed.”
As Constitution Revision Commission members, though, Gaetz and Lee can control the wording of the amendment they propose without fear of amendments being added. The proposed amendment would then be voted upon by state residents.
“This seems like a better environment for this proposal,” Gaetz said.
Carey Theil, the executive director of Grey2K US, has been battling to end greyhound racing in Florida for years. He said having Gaetz sign on with Lee gives his organization a second “heavy hitter” supporting a ban and strengthens the chances of the constitutional amendment proposal getting green-lighted by the full commission.
“I think this is great news for the amendment that Don Gaetz has signed on,” Theil said.
Greyhound racing was introduced in Florida in 1922 and has 12 tracks where races are still held. Opponents like Theil argue that the popularity of the sport has dropped way off over the years but that hundreds of dogs are injured or killed each year as track owners run races so that they can legally conduct other, more popular, forms of gambling.