State regulators have set the process in motion to get the casinos in Council Bluffs and Dubuque out of greyhound racing. The legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that shuts down the Council Bluffs track and shifts the management of dog racing in Dubuque to the Iowa Greyhound Association. It also creates a retirement fund for greyhound owners and breeders who want to get out of the business.
Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission administrator Brian Ohorilko says they’ve decided to send out a Request For Proposals (RFP) to hire a consultant to help them. “The commission will have to write rules, but this will be an additional step where prior to the rulemaking process –if there is an acceptable bidder for the RFP — we can allow them to go through a process, get input from all of the stakeholders, and make a recommendation to the commission,” Ohorilko says.
Ohorilko says the consultant is important because there isn’t any history on the issue. “There is not. There have been instances where jurisdictions have passed legislation to end greyhound racing, but there is no instances where that has occurred and there’s been a fund that would be distributed back to the industry,” Ohrilko explains.
The deal reached in the legislation has the Council Bluffs casino pay $65 million over the next seven years, and the Dubuque casino will pay one million dollars a year into the fund. Half of that money goes into the retirement fund and the other half can be used by those who remain in the industry to run the Dubuque Greyhound Park.
Ohorilko says it could take until fall to the actually get things going. “Essentially, that process to review the bids and select someone will take a few months,” Ohorilko says. “And then if the commission selects a vendor, we will want that vendor to have time to meet with all the stakeholders and participants.” It could take until the end of the this year to have everything in place.”I think it’s reasonable to assume that once a bidder is selected then the bidder would have three to four months to work through that process,” Ohorilko says.
The bill says the Bluffs Run track in Council Bluffs should close, and the management of the Dubuque track should shift by December 31, 2015.