BELLEVUE, Iowa (AP) — Some Iowa greyhound breeders fear
financial damage if lawmakers were to approve a bill that would halt casino
subsidies that are propping up dog racing.
Melissa Schmidt of Bellevue said she and her husband, Dan,
operate a kennel on their cattle farm and have spent years raising racing dogs.
She told the Dubuque
Telegraph Herald a proposal being considered by lawmakers to end
casino-subsidized racing at tracks in Dubuque and Council Bluffs would be
devastating for her family.
“I think it would put us into financial ruin, especially
with having six kids and all the money we have invested in our farm,” she said.
“We could race in other states, but the hauling and the amount of dogs that we
have on our farm, to go into other venues ... would really hurt our bottom line
tremendously. I don’t know how we could recover from it.”
The Iowa Greyhound Association maintains the industry has
created more than 1,200 jobs statewide and has an economic impact of $77 million
a year. Iowa has more than 60 kennels, according to the association.
“All of these jobs and the economic benefit they provide
Iowa will be lost if racing ends — a result that is not required,” association
attorney Jerry Crawford wrote in an email.
But the managers of Mystique Casino in Dubuque and the
Horseshoe Council Bluffs casino have long pushed to end state-mandated subsides
for the money-losing tracks, arguing that such a move would leave more money to
fund charities and local government operations.
The Legislature is considering a bill that would require the
casinos to pay $70 million to greyhound owners and breeds in exchange for an end
to the racing requirement.
Although attendance has dropped dramatically in the past
decade at Iowa’s two greyhound tracks, Schmidt argues the industry could rebound
with more promotion of the racing.
Ending racing ultimately would hurt Mystique Casino in
Dubuque, she said, because it’s the dogs that differentiate the center from
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