Many years ago, on a break from college, I took a drive with my best friend from our hometown of Milwaukee to Kenosha, Wisconsin and Dairyland Greyhound Park. There was a violent thunderstorm on the way down there – we couldn’t see a thing, lightning was blind us, and my friend told me he was thankful I was driving. The dog racing was fine – it was fairly boring, but fun to throw a few small bets down – but the highlight of the night was meeting legendary baseball manager Jim Leyland. His team was in town to play the Brewers and I spotted him, so I decided to get his autograph. The only paper I had on me was a losing ticket; he was a bit gruff when I made my request, suspicious of what I was handing him to sign. He obliged, though, and that is the end of my riveting story.
Dairyland Greyhound Park is long since closed and will soon be joined by Iowa Greyhound Park in Dubuque, which has confirmed that it will shut things down after the 2022 season.
Iowa Racing and Gaming Administrator Brian Ohorilko said that the track’s operator informed him of their decision at last Thursday’s Racing and Gaming Commission meeting.
“The Iowa Greyhound Association as part of their request for license renewal — request to reduce their race meet to 18 days — and also to end Greyhound racing after 2022,” Ohorilko said.
Iowa Greyhound Park is the last remaining dog race track in the state and it has really only stayed alive because of payment obligations made by other tracks.
“As part of the original greyhound cessation legislation that was passed approximately seven years ago — the two racetracks that offered greyhound racing, Q-Casino, and Horshoe Casino — could opt out of greyhound racing and pay a fee over seven years,” explained Ohorilko. “Those payments have been coming in every year and the last payment would be made in 2022.”
If the greyhound industry stays the same through next year, there will be just three dog race tracks remaining in the United States once Iowa Greyhound Park is gone: Mardi Gras Casino and Resort and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack in West Virginia and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in Arkansas.
Though dog racing was once very popular in the States, people lost interest quickly over the past decade. This, combined with legislation in some states that made the sport illegal, has left the country with almost no dog tracks. Florida, the former hotbed of greyhound racing, banned the pastime at the end of last year.
In May, a bipartisan group of members of the US House of Representatives introduced a bill that would make greyhound racing illegal nationwide.
“Greyhound racing is cruel and must end,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas in a press release. “These docile animals are kept in stacked cages for 20 hours or more a day and are subjected to brutal training practices and races, facing the risk of injury and death at every turn.”