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Dairyland Greyhound Track owners seek help from legislators 5-5-07

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) - Owners of the Dairyland Greyhound Track at Kenosha are seeking help from the Wisconsin Legislature as its losses pile up.

A newly completed independent audit of the state's lone remaining pari-mutuel racetrack shows the business lost $2.84 million after a loss of $2.41 million reported the year before.

“We are in a more precarious situation than we were a year ago. And to be honest with you, we will probably have the same conversation a year from now. There is no upside for a stand-alone racetrack in Wisconsin anymore,” said Roy Berger, Dairyland's vice president.

“We would like some kind of relief.”

State Rep. Jim Kreuser, D-Kenosha, said Dairyland paid more than $3.5 million last year in various state and federal taxes, many of them gambling related. Dairyland also pays some fees that no other business pays, such as $20 for each simulcast race it broadcasts, he said. And Kreuser said that, unlike tracks in some other states that offer pari-mutuel racing, Dairyland has to return some of the unclaimed winnings from bettors.

Kreuser said he hopes to find a way to include a provision in the upcoming state budget to provide some kind of tax relief for the track.

The audit, which was completed by Virchow Krause & Co., said the track owners incurred new debt financing in 2005 and accrued interest payments that were due last year.

In addition, “management continues to operate under a business plan focusing on reducing operating costs, while attempting to maximize the ability of the company to generate operating revenues while limited by the restrictions existing under the current legislation and regulations controlling the industry,” the audit said.

The auditors said the uncertainty the track faces while awaiting a federal decision on a proposed $818 million casino-convention center the Menominee tribe wants to build at the track “has resulted in sufficient significant factors, outside management's control, to create substantial doubt regarding the ability of the company to operate as a going concern without the infusion of additional capital.”

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs is studying the casino proposal. If it approves it, Gov. Jim Doyle would then have the final say.

“They will not exercise their option until the governor signs the compact,” Berger said of the Menominee tribe.
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