The closure of Wimbledon Stadium in March this year brought an end to greyhound racing in London and the future of the sport worldwide is now in question.
Animal welfare activists have won several battles and dog racing now been banned in a couple of Australian states while it is legal in only eight counties and even the gambling haven of Macau might soon close its track.
There has long been conflict between animal welfare groups and those who participate in and watch the sport and it seems as though the former are winning, with help from Westminster.
Many tracks are in prime locations in major cities which are ripe for development and, with the government pressing for more housing, it was inevitable that plots would be sold off to developers.
Wimbledon track will be turned into housing, a retail centre and a football stadium, as AFC Wimbledon return to their spiritual home.
While that is a bonus for football fans who crave a return to the era of the ‘Crazy Gang’, it means that those who like a night at the dogs will have to venture further afield.
Attendances have been steadily dwindling over the years and this was inevitable with the advent of online betting.
There is now no need for punters to make a trip to the stadium or even to a betting shop for a wager as it can be done at the touch of a button or swipe of a finger.
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Birmingham has recently lost Hall Green to developers, meaning that there are now only 23 greyhound stadiums left in the UK.
There are many people who would like to see the sport banned completely but it will never happen as it remains a popular viewing sport and is still the sixth most watched sport in Britain.
The remaining stadiums appear fairly stable and some are now owned by bookmakers who stream the live action into their shops, and dog racing remains as popular to bet on as ever.
Most bets are now placed online but it proves that punters are still interested in the sport even if they are not making a night of it any more.
As with everything these days, money talks, and greyhound racing still pulls in millions of pounds for bookmakers and the exchequer and will always be around.
It is part of the culture of some areas of the country and, while the loss of a big player such as Wimbledon is a setback, there are plenty of provincial venues to back up the lies of Belle Vue, Romford, Nottingham and Crayford.
It is not everyone’s cup of tea and opposition to greyhound racing has been vocal, but, backed by the betting industry, dogs will continue to race round tracks chasing a plastic lure for as long as punters want to watch them.
[…] racing in the UK does nevertheless face some major challenges: the growing and vocal influence of animal rights activists who vehemently oppose the sport; the […]