Archive for Friday, March 19, 2004

Delaware Tribe seeks to build casino near Kansas Speedway

March 19, 2004


— The Oklahoma-based Delaware Tribe is the latest to propose building a casino in Wyandotte County.

The tribe wants to build a $225 million casino and resort in Bonner Springs next to the Kansas Speedway, which officials say would create about 2,000 jobs in the city of 6,700. The city would reap 4.2 percent of the casino revenues to begin, rising to 6 percent after seven years.

"This is a great opportunity for the largest economic development project in the history of Bonner Springs," Mayor Clausie Smith said Wednesday.

But a casino run by an out-of-state tribe faces an uphill fight to gain approval in Kansas.

The state already is in court fighting Kansas casino plans advanced by the Oklahoma-based Wyandotte and Miami tribes for sites in Wyandotte and Miami counties. And the Oklahoma-based Shawnee Tribe is seeking land in Johnson County.

"Our general policy has been to work with in-state tribes, and that hasn't changed," said Matt All, counsel to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

He said negotiations between the state and the Intertribal Gaming Management Consortium on a $175 million casino and hotel resort near the speedway are progressing.

The Kickapoo and the Sac and Fox tribes, both in northeast Kansas, formed the consortium last year.

"They have an excellent business proposal," All said. "We're trying to get a compact that is in the best interest of the state. We've had very productive meetings recently. We're encouraged."

All did not rule out presenting a formal compact proposal to state lawmakers for approval before the Legislature adjourns in April.

The state's four recognized tribes all operate casinos on or near their reservation lands in Brown and Jackson counties north of Topeka. There might not be room for two casinos near the speedway.

"There's disagreement on how many casinos can succeed on the Kansas side," All said. "We think there's clearly room for one high-quality destination casino resort. Down the road, we'll see."

The Delaware Tribe, based in Bartlesville, Okla., migrated through Kansas, and one of its members, Henry Tiblow, is recognized as the founder of Bonner Springs.

Fred Gillmann, president of the Las Vegas-based Gillmann Group, which would develop and manage the Delaware casino, said the next step would be to sign a formal deal with Bonner Springs officials, perhaps as early as next week.

Next, he said, would be negotiations with Sebelius and the U.S. Interior Department for approval of federal trust status for the land, qualifying it as a tribal reservation and eligible for casino gambling.

At least one would-be casino competitor has no problem with the Delaware proposal.

Larry Waldrop, a principal in the Texas-based River Falls group that has proposed a casino in partnership with the state, said: "It has always been our opinion that of all the tribes, the Delaware probably had the best case for placing land in trust, since they are landless and have origin in the area."

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