This could be the final week of the legislative session and one thing that’s still not decided is if there will be an agreement to end greyhound racing. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission oversees the operation of the tracks, but commission chair Jeff Lamberti says their only role is to carry out whatever plan is passed.
“We’ll do whatever the legislature tells us to — in terms of if they reach an agreement and it’s given to us to decide how to disperse the funds — we’ll do the best job that we can,” Lamberti says. “We have provided some input that we would hope that the legislature would give us a little guidance.”
A committee in the Iowa House passed a bill that would allow for a payout to end greyhound racing. Representatives of the tracks in Council Bluffs and Dubuque have been working the casinos to try and come to an agreement to close the tracks.
Lamberti says the commission will only get involved once the issue is decided. “We really don’t take a position on whether dog racing should continue, shouldn’t continue, we’ll just follow what the law is. And if they give us responsibility because they do reach an agreement, then we’ll administer that to the best our ability” Lamberti says.
Those pushing to close the dog tracks say nobody goes to the races anymore and the casinos are subsidizing their operation to the tune of $13 million each year. Legislators say a deal to end racing would likely have the two casinos pay a “cessation fee” to end racing and also pay into a multi-million dollar “retirement fund” for greyhound owners and breeders in Iowa.