Archive for Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Legislation to be introduced this month

January 16, 2002


— Heartened by Gov. Bill Graves' endorsement, proponents of allowing slot machines at pari-mutuel racetracks said Tuesday that they hope to draft a bill by the end of the month.

Such a bill would probably be introduced first in the House, where opposition to expansion of legal gambling is strongest, said Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City, Kan., a leader of the effort.

Graves asserted his support for allowing slot machines at dog- and horse-racing tracks in his State of the State speech.

"I was glad to see he showed support for this issue," Steineger said. "I view it as a good sign."

Owners of Kansas' three pari-mutuel parks Wichita Greyhound Park, Camptown Greyhound Park near Pittsburg and The Woodlands in Kansas City have promoted slot machines as a way to save their struggling businesses.

The track owners say they're willing to include a proposal to allow slots at the meeting halls of fraternal organizations to attract support.

But Graves told legislators that while he was willing to consider adding slot machines at the tracks, "the more you expand the number of facilities and gaming locations, the less supportive I will become."

He said later he would not favor letting fraternal groups have slot machines.

"Limiting that to pari-mutuel facilities is what I envision as what I believe would be the appropriate policy for the state of Kansas," Graves said.

Supporters contend the state could receive as much as $100 million from slots. One proposal last year would have given the state 25 percent of revenues after prizes are paid out; another would have set aside 30 percent.

The House and Senate both defeated slot machine measures last year, and opponents suggested that Graves' endorsement won't change the outcome this year.

"It's an individual thing," said Rep. Doug Mays, R-Topeka.

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