Bills that would end greyhound racing in Iowa are moving on two tracks at the statehouse.
Early this morning, a three-member panel in the Iowa House reviewed a plan that would let the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs and the Mystique Casino in Dubuque stop subsidizing the prizes for dog races, effectively ending greyhound racing at those two facilities. Representative Kevin Koester, a Republican from Ankeny, says there are “clear signals” nationally that the days of dog racing are numbered.
“Having spent time listening to both sides, the issue comes down to not if the dog racing by greyhounds will last forever…it’s a matter of when…it clearly is going to end,” Koester says.
Representative Brian Moore, a Democrat from Zwingle, says this proposal violates the “integrity” of the agreement state officials struck in 1983 when they legalized greyhound racing.
“I think we need to honor this business,” Moore says. “There’s too many times that a particular side isn’t making out as well as the other side and then we think we have to yank the rug out from under them.”
Early this month another bill on the subject cleared an initial hurdle in the Iowa Senate. That legislation would have the casinos in Council Bluffs and Dubuque pay the state $70 million over seven years in exchange for ending greyhound racing in their facilities.
Casino representatives suggest there are often more dogs than people at the greyhound parks in Iowa, while a lobbyist for the greyhound industry says the casinos have stopped promoting the races, making it difficult for patrons to follow the action. According to a casino lobbyist, 27 greyhound tracks around the country have closed in the past five years, leaving just 23 operating today.