Harrah's Would Pay $7 Million A Year To End Iowa Greyhound RacingMarch 22, 2010 12:15 pm
The largest gaming company in the world, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc, has offered to pay Iowa state $7 million a year indefinitely in return for relinquishing its responsibility to provide live greyhound racing entertainment to the public.
Stemming from a 1994 agreement designed to save the state’s dog racing industry, Iowa law requires that the Dubuque and Council Bluffs tracks have regular greyhound races in order for the casinos to be able to offer slot machines.
Unfortunately for Harrah’s, though, the two tracks are being supplemented by up to $12 million a year from slot machines and other gaming activities in order to meet the costs of prize monies awarded to the kennels and dog owners.
Recently, House File 2493 unsuccessfully tried to have the law overturned and so Harrah’s, owner of the Horseshoe Casino in Iowa, have now made an offer to pay a $7 million annual fee for all the while it has a gambling license in the state.
As Horseshoe Casino Manager Dan real explains: “That is $7 million a year that can be spent by the state for real issues that affect Iowans like education, jobs and health care as compared to spending this money on a few breeders and owners, many of whom are out of state.”
Recently, Harrah’s Entertainment furnished key lawmakers in Iowa with an in depth report showing the decline in popularity of the greyhound industry, and the consequently high costs to casinos of maintaining the sport.
Despite Harrah’s findings and generous offer, many in the industry believe the proposal would ultimately spell the end of Iowa’s dog racing tradition, with its 62 kennels, 146 breeders/owners and 1,300 people involved in the industry. The offer is also seen as a form of chantage by some, with Harrah’s trying to buy its way out of its obligations.
While the offer is taken under consideration, there are signs that the proposal may have initially struck a positive chord with law makers, and commenting on the situation, Rep. Doug Struyk, R-Council Bluffs said:
“I think, more important than anything, today certainly educated more people about the issue and lets people know that this is an option that’s out there.”