IA Lawmakers Closer to Ending Greyhound Racing - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

IA Lawmakers Closer to Ending Greyhound Racing

By: Jason Rantala

@jarantala

jrantala@myabc5.com

Ending greyhound racing in the state has been on the docket for many years now.

The difference this year is legislators have now agreed to work together to find a good solution for everyone, they say.

For more than 20 years, greyhound racing has been a part of Iowa casinos. More recently, it has lost supporters and seen less wagering and decreased attendance.

"It is a policy that we need to step back take a look at," said Iowa State Sen. Jeff Danielson.

Only two casinos still have the racing: The Mystique in Dubuque and Bluffs Run in Council Bluffs, where profits have plummeted.

In 1986, the two tracks combined earned $186 million. Two years ago, that number was $5.9 million.

The state of Iowa has been subsidizing race purses by about $15 million annually.

This year, stakeholders have agreed to come together to talk about a resolution, something not done in recent years.

"Greyhound racing will eventually be a thing of the past so why not have a thoughtful policy today," said Danielson.

Legislators seem to agree that those who have worked the hundreds of jobs in the industry need to be considered.

They say a phased buyout by the two casinos should help cushion the blow, and that money used to subsidize could instead go to Iowa's economy.

"Anytime you get rid of any industry it's devastating," said Jody Evans with Heartland Greyhound Adoption.

Evans works for Heartland Greyhound Adoption, helping find homes for retired greyhounds. After retirement, dogs go to foster homes until they're adopted.

Evans wants to make sure that if greyhound racing does end, the thousands of dogs can either find another track or a good home.

"Whatever agreement they reach we want to make sure that the dogs have an avenue," said Evans.

"We're not in a rush and we want to be thoughtful and consider all aspects so that when we do send a bill to the Governor's desk it's something that we think will be a fair bill for all stakeholders," said Danielson. 

Senator Danielson says they're currently working on a bill draft to find the best way to end racing.

As for when this could happen, he says they'll take as much time as they need to draw up thoughtful legislation.

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