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The history of greyhound racing

Despite having to contend with the popularity of horse racing, greyhound racing is working hard to ensure that it remains as an important part of the industry.

For many a year, greyhound racing has had to play second fiddle to horse racing, often attracting smaller crowds and prize money to a sport which dominates its industry. Nevertheless, that is not to say that greyhounds do not play a crucial part in the betting world, whether that in bookmakers shops, online or stalls which are present at the venue. Income and attendances are not what they once were, but the casual punters often treat meetings as an evening of entertainment with their friends and family, extending the longevity of venues around the United Kingdom and, in general, the world.

When considering greyhounds betting nowadays, many punters will not realise that it has been just over a century since the first recognised commercial greyhound racetrack was built in California. It also marked a significant change in the industry with the introduction of the mechanical hare, something which was introduced in the UK seven years later in 1926. Over the coming years, greyhound racing become increasingly popular in both the UK and the US, with attendances skyrocketing in both nations as tracks were built to meet demand.

However, the greyhound racing boom did not last in the long term, especially in the US. In 2018, only six states were willing to commission the sport in their respective areas, something which has only worsened over the past two years. Depending on what side of the fence you sit, the UK do not have it as bad as the US, although that does not mean that stadiums do not face a monthly fight to keep their doors open to the public. As many as 25 stadiums remain in the UK, down from well in excess of 200 during the 1940's.

As far as the actual races are concerned, graded races have generally been a common occurrence in order to ensure maximum competition. While you can have odds-on favourites in greyhound races, you very rarely have runners who are in excess of betting odds in the region of 7/1, potentially a factor in interest being generated and retained in equal measure. Unlike with horse racing, when you generally have to wait at least half-an-hour between races for six to eight contests, things run more fluidly at greyhound meetings with shorter wait times and more races. That works for the punters and the trainers, who will naturally want to gain as many opportunities to earn income for their kennels.

From one perspective, it could be perceived that too many meetings are a bad thing, given the costs involved, but respective stadiums will want to ensure that they are giving themselves the biggest chance to bring in more money. They also have to cater for the amount of greyhounds which are on the circuit, building relationships with trainers to ensure that they are competing in the right races for their respective greyhound. There is a fear within the industry that it will eventually fizzle out, like it has in the US, but that same fear should only lead to the leading organisations and parties working together to ensure that such a catastrophe does not occur, aware that it would also have ramifications for other markets.

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