A legislator who wants to end greyhound racing in Iowa has withdrawn a plan to close the state’s two dog tracks, but not before speaking about the issue, Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, says while legislators aren’t likely to vote this year to close the greyhound race tracks in Dubuque and Council Bluffs, she predicts it will happen eventually.
“It is not a matter of if this industry will be eliminated,” Mascher says. “It is a matter of when.”
Mascher calls greyhound racing a “dying” industry. “We are now one of eight states in the nation that still allows live dog racing,” Mascher says. “We are now the only state in the Midwest that allows live dog racing.”
Twenty-four tracks in the U.S. currently offer live greyhound races, including the two in Iowa. “The attendance at dog tracks has been on a continual decline every since casinos expanded with slot machines and table games. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a reality. People are interested in different things today,” Mascher says. “Both the greyhound breeders and kennel owners need to read the tea leaves and need to recognize that this industry is not sustainable and will soon be gone from the state.”
Mascher, however, did not press the issue during House debate of a bill that provides the budget outline for the state agency that regulates the state’s gambling industry.
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat, is from Dubuque, which is home to one of the two greyhound tracks in Iowa. Murphy opposes legislation that would shut down the greyhound tracks because he says it would put about 150 Iowa dog breeders out of business.