Archive for Monday, April 19, 2004

Study projects Wichita as winner in state’s destination-casino battle

April 19, 2004

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— A report from a national consulting firm says a destination casino and resort would be more successful in Wichita than anywhere else in Kansas because the city has no nearby competition.

And Kansans who said they would visit casinos picked Wichita as their top choice for a gambling destination, according to Christiansen Capital Advisors of New Gloucester, Maine, which evaluated the gambling market for the Kansas Lottery.

"Although not nearly as large as Kansas City, the Wichita market is undersupplied," the report says.

The study estimated annual revenues -- the amount of money left after winnings -- at $303.3 million a year for a Wichita casino, compared with $288.4 million for a Wyandotte County casino.

But Wichita comes in first in estimated revenues only if slot machines are not allowed at pari-mutuel tracks or other nearby locations, the study found.

If slot machines are allowed at tracks and other locations, the revenue estimates drop to $235 million for Wyandotte and $193 million for Wichita, the study said.

The Legislature is debating bills that would allow expanded gambling. Sebelius proposed a bill that allows up to five destination casinos plus slot machines at pari-mutuel dog and race tracks and veterans and fraternal clubs. A Senate committee expanded it by adding bowling alleys and other recreational businesses.

Senate Majority Leader Lana Oleen, R-Manhattan, tried to scale back the entire concept earlier in the session, offering a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow just one large casino and four slot machine parlors in the state. But the proposal didn't make it out of committee.

Besides the legislative measures, several tribes are vying to bring a casino to Wyandotte County.

Asked where they would want a non-Indian casino to be located if the Legislature authorized just one site, 37 percent of the survey respondents chose Wichita, 30 percent picked Kansas City, and Topeka was a distant third statewide at 7 percent.

The findings didn't come as a surprise to said Matt All, Sebelius' chief counsel.

"I don't think there's any question there's great potential -- if they want it," he said.

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