VictoryLand to suspend live racing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Citing the loss of revenue from bingo operations, VictoryLand chief operating officer Lewis Benefield announced yesterday the facility is suspending live greyhound racing after this month.

“It is my sad duty to announce that the regular schedule of live greyhound racing at VictoryLand will end after the final race on Sat., May 14. Races will be staged on May 18th, May 21st, May 25th, and May 30th as greyhounds from across the country participate in a Juvenile Futurity,” he said.

All live racing at VictoryLand will be suspended as of June 1,” Benefield said. VictoryLand will continue to provide pari-mutuel wagering on worldwide greyhound and thoroughbred horse racing daily except for Tuesdays. Fine dining and other customer favorites will be available at The Kennel Club restaurant and Willie’s Cafe.

Live Greyhound racing has been conducted continuously at Macon County Greyhound Park in Shorter, Ala., since September 1984.

“Economic realities make it impossible for us to continue offering live racing after the Juvenile Futurity,” he said. “Greyhound racing will resume when we can again offer the electronic bingo games which for many years subsidized the cost of live racing. ”

“Those games were approved in 2003 by 76 percent of Macon County voters in a constitutional amendment referendum authorized by unanimous votes in both houses of the legislature,” he said. “Despite the fact that no court has ever ruled electronic bingo to be illegal, we were forced to end bingo operations last year in the face of threats by former Gov. Bob Riley.

The economic cost of Riley’s action has been enormous. VictoryLand was one of the largest employers in Alabama with over 2000 employees, and has paid over $200 million in taxes and funded over 100 charitable organizations since its opening. The end of live greyhound racing alone means 200 employees will lose their jobs.”