Governor Terry Branstad is raising concerns about a deal that would get the casinos in Council Bluffs and Dubuque out of the greyhound racing business by closing the Bluffs Run track and shifting management of the Dubuque Greyhound Park to the Iowa Greyhound Association.
“I understand the benefits that the people in Council Bluffs and Dubuque see from this, and the greyhound industry,” Branstad says. “My concern is the horse industry was left out of this.”
The Chambers of Commerce in both cities, along with other groups, lobbied lawmakers to unshackle the casinos from subsidizing a dying greyhound industry. They argue the $13 million spent on dog racing each year could have been spent on charities in their communities and Branstad is sympathetic to that.
“The cost of subsidizing the greyhound industry is taking money that could have gone to non-profits,” Branstad says.
However, the governor’s concern is over provisions in the bill that would give the greyhound industry authority to strike deals to simulcast dog and horse races at any of the state’s casinos and get all of the profit from it. Today simulcasting deals are only allowed at the casinos in Altoona, Council Bluffs and Dubuque and Iowa’s horse industry gets the financial take.
“There is some concern that I’m hearing from my friends in the horse industry. I’ve always been close with them,” Branstad says. “We have a very big and significant horse industry in the state of Iowa.”
Branstad has ’til June 2 to decide whether to sign or veto the bill.
“I’m trying to weigh all those things,” Branstad says. “I want to do something that’s fair to all the communities involved and fair to all the parties and the one group that seems to be, because of the simulcasting provisions of that bill, having some concerns is the horse industry and so I’m carefully reviewing that,” Branstad says. “I have not made a final decision.”
Branstad made his comments today during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs tonight at 7:30 on Iowa Public Television