Archive for Saturday, May 17, 2003

Wyandotte County OKs plan for casino

$170 million facility near Kansas Speedway still needs to win state, federal approval

May 17, 2003

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— The local government has approved a $170 million proposal to bring a tribal casino to Wyandotte County.

Members of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., voted 7-1 Thursday for the agreement, which would provide city police, fire and emergency services, and other municipal benefits to the tribal partnership.

"Whether it's good for the city or bad is a matter of debate," said Hal Walker, the Unified Government's chief counsel. "But it's clear the people of Wyandotte County do want to gamble. Why should Kansas dollars keep going across the state line to Missouri?"

The deal still must gain approval from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, the Kansas Legislature, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Interior Department and the Federal Indian Gaming Commission.

Under the plan, the Kickapoo Tribe and the Sac and Fox Nation would make nominal property tax payments to two school districts based on the land's undeveloped value. They also would pay the Unified Government 4.2 percent of casino revenues, which would grow to 6.5 percent after no more than seven years.

Mayor Carol Marinovich also was authorized to continue negotiations on several issues to increase the city's share of casino revenue.

The tribes have said they would offer the state an additional but undisclosed percentage of the gross.

The Kickapoo Tribe and the Sac and Fox Nation would jointly own the gambling complex about one mile west of Kansas Speedway. The project, which would be about 25 miles east of Lawrence, would offer about 2,500 slot machines, table games such as blackjack and a 250-room hotel.

The tribes each operate casinos north of Topeka a few miles apart, and those are expected to remain open.

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