Topeka — Expanded gambling won't mean instant riches for the state, but it could provide enough revenue in time to satisfy a state Supreme Court mandate that legislators quickly come up with more money for public schools.
Basically, two proposals for gambling are floating - "Big Casino" and "Little Casino." Neither promises any money to the state until near the end of 2005, but that's still in time to provide extra school funding in the upcoming budget year.
"It's enough to deal with the current problem in school finance and maybe enough to squeak through the overall budget commitment in the next budget year," said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence.
Big Casino calls for five "destination casinos" plus slot machines at pari-mutuel dog and horse tracks in Anthony, Eureka, Frontenac, Kansas City and Wichita. Little Casino also allows slots at the tracks, but limits casinos to Wyandotte County and southeast Kansas.
Doug Lawrence, a gambling industry lobbyist, said tracks and casinos would pay $15,000 in upfront money for each slot machine. Assuming 5,500 slots at the tracks as envisioned by the proposals, the state could have an $82.5 million windfall by the end of the year.
Casinos and tracks first must get approval in counties where voters already haven't endorsed such operations and then must work out a contract with the state.
"Once you have an agreement allowing the developer to go forward without additional steps, the accelerator payments would be due," Lawrence said. "On the track side, we would expect the accelerator within six months of passage of the bill."
Lawrence said each casino would have up to 2,000 slots, amounting to $30 million upfront money. He said the process of getting a casino running takes longer and the state wouldn't see upfront money until around next April, with casinos in full operation a year later.
Slots are the biggest money makers for casinos. For instance, they account for about 85 percent of the adjusted gross revenues of the 11 casinos in Missouri.
Aside from the state lottery and horse and dog tracks, there are four American Indian casinos in Kansas. There are four casinos in Kansas City, Mo., one in St. Joseph, Mo., and 10 Indian casinos in northeast Oklahoma.