Representative wants to bring animal racing back to Kansas

Kansas to bring back animal racing.

Credits: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado.

Gambling tracks in Kansas could re-open if HB2173, proposed by Representative John Baker, gets passed in the state.

US.- Representative John Barker has proposed bill HB2173 to the Kansas legislature in order to re-open gambling tracks and bring back animal racing to the state. This is a new attempt of passing a bracing bill, as Barker and other legislators have -unsuccesfully- brought a number of different forms of the proposal to the statehouse since 2013.

The is currently on hold as it awaits for the legislative session to return from adjournment. Then it will besent into a committee to have an amendment added to it in order to allow Kanasas to bypass any possible liability.

Despite the process is not active, the potential passing of HB2173 has awaken many opposing groups that include state-owned casinos and tribal casinos. Said venues are based on card games, craps tables and slot machines and pay a 22 percent tax on any income.

Animal rights groups have also raised their voice against the bill but have been quickly addressed by National Greyhound Association Director Jim Gartland that said the health and well-being of the animals is not an issue because of the strict guidelines and policies maintained by the NGA and state and federal governments. “You don’t mistreat a US$50,000 dog,” he said.

“Here in the state of Kansas, the casinos have the monopoly,” Barker said. He explained that “track owners want a chance to operate in the state of Kansas and they wouldn’t need any state incentives like the US$500 million in tax rebates used by the state-owned casinos.”

Owners and operators of race tracks have to face a 40-percent tax on any income they bring in and that represents a major setback for the business. However, if the bill gets passed, the percentage is likely to be reduced to the 22 percent currently paid by state-owned casinos. Whilst the track at the Woodlands was used in years past for Greyhound and horse racing, it will only be used for horses if it re-opens under the ownership of billionaire Ruffin.

The tracks in southeast Kansas and in Sedgwick County will be the only Kansas Greyhound tracks. In Sedgwick county, the opposition to the Greyhound track re-opening is due to the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane. At present the casino currently retains the privilege to be the only operator in the central-Kansas gambling zone.

Barker said the revenue brought in by the tracks at the Woodlands, southeast Kansas and in Sedgwick County have the potential to be upwards of an estimated US$50 million. This requires a prior investment of more than US$400 million during the first years in order to renovate the tracks and build hotels to accommodate customers. HB2173 will be on the agenda during the 2017 and 2018 sessions and, if it doesn’t pass, it will have to be re-introduced in 2019.