Re "All race meetings are not nor should not be about gambling.
At a lot of country tracks it is very social and about meeting up with friends and talking about their new dogs or pups, what happening in the greyhound world and generally being part of the greyhound family".
Quite so - indeed, this is what the industry used to be. There was a clear distinction between Country and Other. But then, one after the other they started upping country clubs to TAB status with higher expenses and higher prize money. The sole motive of authorities was to keep increasing gross revenue and was aided by TABCORP encouragement to fill any vacant spots in the weekly program. Much of that got a kick along in 2010 with extra Grades and extra meetings over the weekend, much of it for lower standard dogs.
There were, and no doubt still are, many owner/trainers who are genuine hobbyists and are satisfied to earn enough to pay for the kibble and the vet. No problem as this supports a wider interest in the code from smaller towns.
Unfortunately, recent experience has led to an uncontrolled mixture of hobbyists and serious owner/trainers or professionals, and a similar mixture of dogs - in turn presenting a nondescript product to the public, particularly the betting public. A further outcome has been the huge increase in sub-400m racing, where predictions are harder to make (bend starts etc) and where the average dog standard has declined as a result.
Big dough for a handful of feature races is fine (to a point) but what sustains the industry is good solid reliable 5th grade provincial racing every week with recognisable dogs. If you get that right the lower and higher levels will take care of themselves.
And you will then have the cash to support whole-of-life tracking, GAP, needed marketing programs, top track standards, more pups, a watchful eye over breeding quality, and so on.
In any event, the key is that apart from a tiny handful of "country" tracks in NSW they have all folded, or been sacked, or promoted. The other states have none. SA and Qld used to, but not any more. Curiously all this has been happening at a time when the dog population has been dwindling - and still is,
So, effectively, it is all about gambling. There is no choice.