A request from a bar on the city’s north side to open another off-track betting site has been rejected.
In a unanimous decision, the Tucson City Council last week rejected an application from the Midtown Tavern, 3620 N. First Ave., to open a new betting site in partnership with Tucson Greyhound Park.
Several members of the council said they opposed issuing the license because it would financially support greyhound racing in other states. Last year Arizona joined 29 other states that prohibit greyhound racing.
“Many of us worked hard to get live dog racing shut down in this state for years and years. It is abusive and it is the reason it is being shut down all over the country. It is a dying industry, “ Councilman Steve Kozachik said. “We should do nothing at the council level that encourages the continuation of the exploitation of these animals. I absolutely will not support this.”
Councilman Paul Durham opened the door to allow some off-track betting at Midtown Tavern, but not dog racing.
“Let me very clear. I will oppose your application if it includes dog racing. I will support your application if it includes only horse and harness racing,” Durham told the owner of the bar, Frank Silverman.
“I understand your position,” Silverman replied.
Alicia Heiserer, the general manager of Tucson Greyhound Park, told the council that in Pima County, her company has the exclusive license to set up off-track betting.
She said the issue isn’t about greyhound racing in Arizona.
“We are not bringing live greyhound racing back,” she said.
The council was lobbied by several members of the community opposed to greyhound racing in any form, including the businesses that directly support it. Gary Vella urged the council to reject any contract that would expand off-tracking betting on greyhound racing, calling it “a dying industry.”
The Tucson area has several off-track betting locations, including four within the city limits, another in Marana and one at South Tucson’s dog track.