Punters go to the dogs

By DOMINIC FEAIN

LISMORE Greyhound Racetrack manager, John Scholten, was coy about last night's first dog race meeting since the outbreak of equine influenza in the horse racing industry but local betting on the greyhounds has risen.

"It's business as usual," he said smiling.

"We'll just have to see how it goes."

Mr Scholten expects the betting pools to be bigger and hopes it improves the meeting but would not be drawn into any predictions.

"Greyhound racing may be depressed elsewhere in the state but this place was already going fantastic," he said.

Downtown, though, the betting industry appears to have well and truly 'gone to the dogs'.

Lismore TAB manager, Catherine Simes, is surviving on the dog races, and a few New Zealand horse races.

"It's very slow; I couldn't afford to cover the staff's wages so I had to come back from maternity leave myself," she said.

Goonellabah Tavern manager, Adam Berger, has seen a small flow on to the dogs and the NZ races but reports the turnover as generally well down

"There's even been a few punters throwing a couple of dollars in the pokies, and then leaving it's really a different type of gambling."

Mark Davey, from Mary Gilhooley's, reports a similar pattern.

"We've also seen a drop in the bar takes without the punters here," he said.

"What we're most worried about is losing the Lismore and Ballina cups.

"The local cup is the biggest night on our calendar."

Tabcorp has since recorded an 87 per cent increase in greyhound betting and a 74 per cent drop in thoroughbred and harness wagers from Saturday to Monday.

In response to the equine influenza crisis, Greyhound Racing NSW, in conjunction with Tabcorp, has confirmed a new race date at Richmond on Thursday August 30.



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