Dog Days at Gulf Greyhound Park

Gulf Greyhound Park

How’s business at the world’s largest greyhound-racing venue? Not so brisk, reports the Houston Press:

The clubhouse and restaurant are now closed. There’s no more valet parking. Ebbs estimates that total attendance at Gulf on a good night is around 1,200. “When I got into it, dog and horse racing were the only games in town,” he says. “I’ve watched the whole gambling scene really blow up since the early ’90s. Greyhound and horse racing have gone from the only games in town to just one of many choices.”

But there’s hope to bring back customers:

Mike Parmetti, Gulf’s Marketing Director, is working on strategies to lure people to the track. Thursday is 50-cent draft beer night. There are Harley-Davidson giveaways and free trips to Las Vegas during the summer. On Fridays, there’s an all-you-can-eat crawfish buffet for $9.95. Then, there’s something called Dog Chip Bingo, advertised with this teaser: “If your puppy poops or pees in the right position, win a prize!”

Any better ideas?

Parmetti and Ebbs think slot machines — called Video Lottery Terminals at the tracks — might be the saving grace of Texas dog racing. They are convinced that slots will bring the dog tracks back to life without creating the sorts of vices gambling opponents fear. “You can’t create gambling problems,” Parmetti says. “If you could, we’d find a way to do it and pack this place out.”

Some Democrats, like State Sen. Rodney Ellis, have shown a willingness to support gambling because it would increase much-needed tax revenue. Year by year, the issue seems to be gaining traction. Without gambling, some say all the Texas tracks could be out of business in the next decade.

Photo of Gulf Greyhound Park: Flickr user HiggieFresh