February 27, 2024

Dubuque leaders seek to dump greyhound racing

DUBUQUE (AP) — The Dubuque City Council will ask state lawmakers to remove a state requirement that it maintain a greyhound dog racing track at the local Mystique Casino.

The request is included in the council’s legislative priorities packet approved Monday night, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported Saturday.

The track provided much-needed relief for a community mired in an economic crisis when it was approved by residents in 1985. But since then, city officials said, the greyhound racing industry has fallen into a “death spiral,” turning the once lucrative track into a financial drag.

The Dubuque Racing Association spent about $4.5 million last year to subsidize racing and has diverted more than $55 million from charitable organizations and the city’s capital projects fund over the past three decades, the newspaper reported.

The first slot machines were added to Mystique with the explicit purpose of enhancing racing purses. But interest has waned in the sport since the early 1990s.

Only two greyhound tracks remain in Iowa. The other is in Council Bluffs.

The sport does have its supporters. Kennel operator Brad Boeckenstedt, of Bellevue, said eliminating the requirement for greyhound racing would have wide-reaching consequences, noting that Iowa is home to more than 60 greyhound farms. The industry has created more than 1,000 jobs in the state, he said.

“Our family is greatly invested in our community and in the greyhound business,” Boeckenstedt said. “This is something when this was brought about, they couldn’t get slot machines without greyhound racing. It’s kind of sad that they want to get rid of us now that they have slots.”