Dog Fight

If you were to fire up those crazy internets, cruise over to Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin‘s website and punch up the list of the Commonwealth’s registered gaming lobbyists, you’ll find a who’s who of players vying for Governor Deval Patrick‘s three state gaming licenses.

Donald Trump, Suffolk Downs, the Mashpee Wampanoags; they’ve all registered with the state. There is one group on the list, though, that seems a bit out of place. It’s GREY2K USA, which, far from being dedicated to bringing poker tables and slots into the state, is fighting to get dog track racing out of it.

The Herald reported today that if Suffolk Downs and Wonderland Park make good on talks to combine their bids, Wonderland would shut down its dog racing track. We decided to give GREY2K USA President and Chief Council Christine Dorchak a call. She essentially called BS on Wonderland.

“Over the years, neither track has shown any interest in ending dog racing,” she said, referencing Raynham Park’s dog racing operation, in addition to Wonderland. “Obviously if Wonderland Greyhound Park wants to end dog racing, that’s something the greyhounds would very much appreciate.”

Dorchak has plenty of reason to throw cold water on the idea that the tracks may end dog racing on their own–she’s been trying to end it for them for most of this decade. Dorchak said her group consulted with Patrick, while he was weighing his options on how to bring expanded gambling into the state, to put a referendum question before voters in 2008 that could end greyhound racing in the state by 2010.

If this sounds familiar, it should. You may recall the 2000 throw-down where activists like Dorchak squared off against Wonderland and Raynham over a similar ballot referendum. That referendum narrowly failed to pass, but Dorchak says her group is more prepared the second time around and ready for a fight.

To get a dog racing question on the ballot for 2008, GREY2K USA and its allies must collect 66,593 signatures by November 21 and, in a second round of petitioning, collect another 11,099 by July. With 40,000 John Hancocks already on their rolls, Dorchak expects to meet the signature quota easily.

Thanks to Dorchak’s efforts, you can throw another monkey wrench into the Massachusetts Gamblepalooza stew. At the same time that we could be talking about the state reviewing a casino bid from Wonderland Park, advocates on both sides of the dog racing issue will be cranking up their rhetoric (and in case you’ve forgotten the radio ads from 2000, there will be rhetoric).

We may even have the bizarre scenario of Wonderland hoping to shutdown their dog track (in the event they win a gaming license) and on the other, fighting to keep dog racing legal, in case their bid comes up short.