AP NEWS

Iowa Greyhound Park bets rise again, but future still dicey

November 12, 2019

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Betting on races at Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque rose by 14% this year, but the park’s future and that of greyhound racing still look dicey.

Wagering at the park and other facilities on the Dubuque races is up for the fourth year in a row, according to figures for this year’s season, which ended Sunday after 104 days of racing.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but we’re only going by baby steps, where we need to be going by leaps and bounds,” park general manager Brian Carpenter said.

“Our plan is to open again next year in May, and, hopefully, we have another successful year.”

Carpenter told the Telegraph Herald the park remains far from being financially viable on its own. It continues to reap the benefits of a 2014 agreement with state gambling regulators that allowed Dubuque’s Mystique Casino & Resort — now Q Casino and Hotel — and the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs to sever ties with the greyhound industry. The betting at the dog tracks affiliated with the casinos plummeted after the casinos were established, officials have said.

Key parts of the settlement included the $4.6 million Horseshoe Casino’s owners pay yearly to Iowa Greyhound Park through 2022 and the $500,000 that Q Casino’s owner pay yearly through 2021.

And the future problems are not just financial.

“The question is whether we’ll have enough greyhounds to keep going,” Carpenter said.

Florida voters last year approved a measure that will eliminate greyhound racing at the end of Florida’s 2020 season. Also, racing officials in Arkansas recently agreed to phase out greyhound racing at that state’s lone track by the end of 2022.

Only six states still have active greyhound tracks, and the loss of Arkansas and Florida tracks could deter breeders and lead to a shortage of greyhounds, Carpenter said.

Jean Hallahan, assistant general manager at Iowa Greyhound Park, said she thinks bettors in Arkansas and Florida could raise their wagers on races taking place in Dubuque. She said she’s already fielded calls from Florida residents who shared their hopes for continued racing in Dubuque.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com