A deal has likely emerged that would end greyhound racing in Council Bluffs by the end of 2015. Dog racing would continue at the track in Dubuque, but it would no longer be bankrolled by the casino there.
The Iowa Greyhound Association would lease that track and run it as their own “racino” in Dubuque. Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, said this evening that he senses “broad, bipartisan support” in the legislature for the deal.
“The stakeholders — the two track managers (in) Council Bluffs and Dubuque and the Greyhound Association itself — deserve high praise,” Danielson said. “They have worked together all session in a spirit of cooperation to reach compromise and as someone who’s worked on gaming bills in the past, I couldn’t be more happy with what they’ve presented us.”
The deal is outlined in a bill that was introduced in the Iowa Senate this afternoon. A senate subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Thursday morning at 8:30.
“It has solved both the policy and the politics in a pretty elegant, simple way that I think can work going forward,” Danielson said.
The final race at the “Bluffs Run” at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs would be on December 31, 2015 and Caesar’s, which owns the casino, would pay $65 million over seven years, money the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would distribute to greyhound owners and trainers who quit the business. Danielson said “rescue” groups that find new homes for the greyhounds retired from racing would be eligible for some of that money, too.
“So the net take away from the bill is that we would reduce in half the current footprint of greyhound racing in Iowa,” Danielson said. “We will have solved all the economic and community concerns which I think we needed to do in order to have a product that senators and (representatives) could vote for and know that it would work going forward, and we will have done it without a dime of taxpayers’ money involved.”
The dog racing currently managed and bankrolled by the Mystique Casino in Dubuque would end October 31, 2014, but the Iowa Greyhound Association would then be able to step in and manage racing there next year. The Dubuque casino would pay far less, about a million dollars a year, into the “cessation fund” for greyhound owners who leave the industry. If the bill as currently written become law, the Iowa Greyhound Association would also be given authority to simulcast their Dubuque races at any other casino in Iowa. Under current law, simulcasting is only permitted at the three state gaming facilities which have live racing.
The two casinos have complained there are few customers for greyhound racing and it costs the Council Bluffs and Dubuque casinos $13 million a year to subsidize the two dog tracks.