Three years after the government decided to abandon the idea of greyhound racing in South Africa, new gambling laws may see the return of this sport, it was reported by SAPA this week. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said this week that there is a real chance of greyhound gambling making a reappearance on the scene due to the tabling of the new draft National Gambling Norms and Standards bill that was recently published in the Government Gazette. The law makes specific mention of greyhound racing as a form of sport which will be covered by the new gambling laws.
Three years ago, the government was convinced that it was not a good idea to add dog racing to its list of sports covered by gambling, after animal welfare groups made a case against the industry. It was showed that dog racing is a cruel sport which causes immense suffering to the dogs.
"What can have possibly changed since 2011 when the department... backed down from the idea of greyhound racing?" asked IFAW Southern Africa companion animal adviser, Cora Bailey.
"Then, and despite a massive lobby by the pro-racing fraternity, they responded positively to overwhelming evidence of the cruelty and welfare concerns related to dog fighting. This was not to mention the financial implications for gamblers."
Cora Bailey said that nothing has changed in South Africa's reality in the past three years that should cause a change in the government's stance against greyhound racing, and therefore called for the language in the National Gambling Norms and Standards bill to be changed to keep dog gambling out.
"It's not just the dogs that suffer, but the financial situation for people in these communities is dire and will only become worse if greyhound racing is approved," predicted Bailey. The group believes that allowing dog racing to become a reality in South Africa once more could lead to illegal gambling and an illicit side to the sport.
Although the calls have been made to change the draft, nobody is optimistic that things are within the government's ability to do much about the issue. "The fact is that South African authorities don't have the laws, or the manpower to manage illegal activities such as dog fighting and puppy mills," said IFAW Southern Africa director Jason Bell.