Archive for Thursday, May 9, 2002

Senate panel delays gambling vote

May 9, 2002


— Supporters hoping for a Senate panel's endorsement of a bill expanding legalized gambling in Kansas will have to wait a little longer.

The Senate Judiciary Committee delayed a vote on the measure Thursday after members asked for more time to consider proposed amendments. Some members said they were concerned about the bill and want time to look at other options for expanding gambling in the state.

The measure would allow slot machines at five pari-mutuel racetracks and one unspecified at-large site if local voters approved.

The committee was to meet again Thursday consider the amendments. Two of the amendments would strike the at-large site from the bill.

Sen. Greta Goodwin, D-Winfield, said the possibility the site could be put near a state university worried her.

The panel heard testimony on the bill Wednesday. The House narrowly passed the measure last week.

Supporters said the bill would raise needed revenue for the state. Some opponents said gambling is harmful generally, while others criticized the way the bill would distribute profits.

The legislation provides that 66 percent of net revenues from slot machines and other electronic gambling devices would go to the track owners; 26.5 percent to the state; and 1 percent each to cities and counties where tracks are located.

Legislators are considering the measure as two northeast Kansas Indian tribes the Kickapoo and the Sac and Fox pursue plans to combine their separate casinos and move the operation to Wyandotte County. The tribes have said they would offer the state a share of the profits to get it to enter into a gambling compact.

On Wednesday, Rep. Tony Powell, chairman of the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations urged Gov. Bill Graves to talk with the tribes soon.

"The proposal from the two tribes to consolidate their casinos in one joint casino in Wyandotte County presents the best alternative because it would not expand gambling, it would provide money to the state, and it would provide economic development," said Powell, R-Wichita.

Powell, who voted against the gambling bill now before the Senate, said he would be open to helping the tribes and Graves in drafting a deal that is mutually beneficial.

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