- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ALTOONA, Iowa (AP) - A trade group expected to take over dog racing in Iowa told a commission Wednesday that the approval of a gambling license will allow it to save jobs and keep the industry alive in the state.

The Iowa Greyhound Association plans to host more than 120 racing days in 2015 and keep employing workers at the Dubuque Greyhound Park, said attorney Jerry Crawford during remarks to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

“This second chance at Dubuque does something that I think is enormously important,” he said. “It gives us a chance to keep the nation’s top greyhound breeding program alive.”

The IGA submitted a license application last month to operate at the park following legislation this year that changed the future of dog racing in the state. It ends dog racing in Council Bluffs at the end of 2015 but keeps it alive in Dubuque under the IGA.

As part of the legislation, casinos that have subsidized dog racing will pay $72 million, half of which will be used to help the IGA with operating in Dubuque. The other half will help pay for a retirement fund for dog owners and breeders.



The association needs the gambling license to move forward with its plans. It faced criticism Wednesday from Dean Miner, of the Filipelli/Miner Racing Kennel. He claimed the group has not been transparent with how it will spend its share of the money and that the legislation doesn’t offer opportunities to enough dog owners.

“I don’t think that it serves the best interest of … the families and farmers and dog owners and investors to just take half of $72 million and subsidize a handful of people to race at Dubuque for a few years. I think that’s the definition of inequality. It’s just not right,” he said.

But Crawford said that the group plans to have enough racing days for plenty of dog owners to participate. The association is in the midst of confirming leasing space with the city of Dubuque and the Dubuque Racing Association, according to Crawford.

“Everyone involved is committed to the notion that no one will be excluded from racing at Dubuque,” he said.

Crawford also argued against Miner’s issues over how the money was split.

“First … that’s what the Legislature put into law that was passed and signed,” Crawford said. “That there would be two funds: one for soft landing, one for second chance racing. And secondly, we would have very properly come under attack if we hadn’t fought tooth and nail to figure out a way to preserve breeding and racing of greyhounds in Iowa.”

The commission is expected to vote on the license application on Nov. 13. In the meantime, a New Jersey group has been hired to help distribute the remaining funds to dog owners and breeders. Several public meetings on the issue are scheduled this month.

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