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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Lottery Commission considers casino applications

  • As the Kansas Lottery Commission began two days of hearings Monday on proposals from those wanting to operate three state-owned and state-operated casinos, not everybody who showed up was in favor of the idea for Sumner County.


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  • As the Kansas Lottery Commission began two days of hearings Monday on proposals from those wanting to operate three state-owned and state-operated casinos, not everybody who showed up was in favor of the idea for Sumner County.

    The commission heard from Sumner County Ventures, which includes MGM Mirage and Foxwoods; and Sumner Gaming Joint Venture, which includes Harrah’s Entertainment, both wanting to locate in Mulvane in Sumner County.

    Two others, Marvel Gaming of Las Vegas, formed by the Binion Family Trust in Las Vegas; and Penn National Gaming of Wyomissing, Pa., are pushing for a location near Wellington.

    Today, the commission will hear from five applicants for Wyandotte County and two for Ford County.

    Commission Chairman Harold Nye, of Hays, said he didn’t know when the commission would vote, although it faces a deadline of next Tuesday.

    It can endorse as many contracts as it wants and forward them to the Kansas Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board, which will make the final picks.

    Earlier this month, the commission endorsed a contract with Penn National, the sole bidder for a Cherokee County casino.

    The commission decides if the contracts meet the requirements of the law, including the minimum investment of $225 million and a $25 million privilege fee for all except Ford County where it’s a minimum $50 million investment and a $5 million fee.

    “The question is, do they met the threshold in the law and if they do, they go to the review board,” said Ed Van Petten, Lottery executive director.

    Two groups of Mulvane residents, about 50 against the casino and another 100 for it, attended the meeting. Some supporters wore green T-shirts endorsing Harrah’s while opponents had signs reading “Mulvane Says No Casino.” They sat quietly as the presentations were made.

    Les Sims, chairman of the opposition group, told reporters a casino will lead to increased crime, bankruptcy and other social ills. He also said the majority of Mulvane is in Sedgwick County where voters last year rejected a casino.

    “Morally, it’s not loving your neighbor when you try to take money from your neighbor’s pocket and put it in yours,” Sims said.

    All four developers proposed a resort casino with a hotel, 2,000 slot machines and about 50 tables with various games. Other features included restaurants, health clubs, spas and convention centers. All said they would be operating in 2010.

    Only Marvel said what percentage of its revenue would go to the state: 27 percent up to $250 million, 32 percent between $250 million and $300 million and 37 percent above $300 million.

    The others didn’t say what the state’s share would be although the law requires a minimum 22 percent.

    Under the law, the Lottery contracts with developers to build and operate casinos, but makes clear the facilities are state-owned and state-operated. The state hopes to eventually collect some $200 million a year from the new gambling.

    The commission action comes as the gambling law is under review by the Kansas Supreme Court, chiefly over the question of whether what the Legislature calls “state-owned and state-operated casinos” really are that.

    The state constitution allows a state-owned and -operated lottery, and the Supreme Court said in 1994 the term “lottery” was broad enough to include slot machines and other casino games.

    The justices heard arguments last week on an appeal of a district court ruling in February that upheld the law. They gave no indication when they will rule.

    Once it gets the contracts, the review board will do its own study with its consultants and staff. It expects to announce its decisions in August and September.

    The board will consider issues such as whether a contract brings the most revenue to the state, encourages tourism and is in the state’s best interest. The final word will come from the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, which will conduct background checks.

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