State regulators selected a company Thursday to continue the process of cutting the number of greyhound tracks in half. State lawmakers created a deal last session that was signed into law by the governor that shuts down the Council Bluffs track and shifts the management of dog racing in Dubuque to the Iowa Greyhound Association.
The deal requires the casinos that are now running the tracks to pay into a retirement fund to get out of the dog-racing business. Iowa Racing and Gaming administrator Brian Ohorilko says Spectrum Gaming of New Jersey will decide who gets paid from that fund. “What this vendor will do is go through a public process and make a recommendation to the commission promulgating rules for this distribution,” Ohorilko says.
The company will use the next several months to come up with a plan. “The process for them to receive public input will go on throughout the winter. The report will be expected in late February with a public presentation at the March meeting.” Ohorilko says. The deal reached in the legislation has the Council Bluffs casino paying $65 million over the next seven years, and the Dubuque casino will pay one million dollars each year into the fund. Half of the fund goes to retiring greyhound breeders and the other half goes to those still in the industry.
Ohorilko says the paperwork is also in the works to shut down the two current dog tracks. He says both tracks have given the commission notice that they intend to terminate live greyhound racing. Ohorilko says December 31st is the last day the Mystic track can hold the racetrack license in Dubuque. The track is running simulcast races right now.
The western Iowa track has a little more time before it stops running the dogs. “Horseshoe over in Council Bluffs, the statute requires them to run through the 2015 racing season. They run year-round, so there will be one more year there,” according to Ohorilko.
As for the new track management, the Iowa Greyhound Association filed an application October 1st for a license to run greyhounds. “The commission is currently reviewing that application, the DCI is performing background checks on board members and key employees,” Ohorilko say. “A decision will need to be made by December 1st as to whether to grant that license. Should that license be awarded, they will be able to open on January 1st.”
He says the track would begin with simulcast racing in January if it is approved for the license. He says they plan to have public input before the final decision on the license with a special meeting later this month or early November to allow the Iowa Greyhound Association to present their application, and to get public input from those who support or are against the new license.
The Racing and Gaming Commission made the decisions on the greyhound issue at their meeting Thursday in Clinton.