A three-member panel at the statehouse has signed off on a bill to end greyhound racing at casinos in Council Bluffs and Dubuque. Jim Carney is a lobbyist for Caesar’s, which owns the Council Bluffs casino where the Bluffs Run greyhound track is located.
“Dog racing is dead,” Carney told legislators this morning. “It’s just a thing of the past.”
Bill Wimmer is a lobbyist for the Mystique Casino, where the Dubuque Greyhound Park is located.
“I feel that it’s time to stop the racing in Iowa and get on with other things,” Wimmer told the House subcommittee considering the bill.
The two casinos argue dog racing is a drain on profits and diverting money from the charities the casinos support. The bill that cleared a House subcommittee would see the casinos give $70 million to greyhound breeders, trainers and others in the industry as a final pay-out. Don Avenson, a lobbyist for the Iowa Greyhound Association, suggests that should tell legislators something.
“I don’t understand why we’re in a rush to help this industry, an industry thats whole premise is built on false dreams and glitter,” Avenson said during the House subcommittee meeting. “It produces nothing but money going to Las Vegas.”
A day-long meeting of representatives of the greyhound industry and the casinos is scheduled for tomorrow.
Representative Guy Vander Linden, a Republican from Oskaloosa, said he’s hoping the parties can settle this between themselves “and all we’ll have to do it dot the I’s and cross the T’s” — meaning if the two sides strike a deal that brings dog racing to an end in Iowa, the legislature would ratify it.
In the past several years bills that would have banned greyhound racing in Iowa faltered at the statehouse, but this year the city councils in Dubuque and Council Bluffs as well as economic development officials from those cities began lobbying legislators to end greyhound racing.