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Archive for Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wichita left out of revenue-sharing in gambling bill

April 11, 2007

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— The city of Wichita won't get about $1 million in revenue-sharing because of a mistake in the new casino and slots bill.

Today, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will visit four potential casino locations - starting in Wichita - to sign the bill into law.

The $1 million problem is being described by some lawmakers as an inadvertent error in the legislation, but it may increase pressure to consider a so-called "trailer" bill to correct the situation when the Legislature returns for its wrap-up session April 25.

"I think we should fix it," said state Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita.

"I think it would be advisable if we did," agreed Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka.

But some Republican legislative leaders, even those who supported expanded gambling, have said recently they're not inclined to reopen debate on gambling because it has been such a divisive issue this year.

The legislation approved in close votes last month would allow a casino-resort complex in Wyandotte and Ford counties, south-central Kansas and southeastern Kansas. It also would allow 2,800 electronic video games at The Woodlands horse and dog track in Kansas City, Kan., Wichita Greyhound Park and Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac.

Under the bill, the tracks must share some gambling revenues with local cities and counties. An amendment to the bill in the House added Sumner County as a possible casino choice in south-central Kansas, and transferred the city of Wichita's claim to a share of slots revenue at the track to its home county, Sedgwick County. At stake is approximately $1 million, lawmakers said.

Lawmakers familiar with the amendment said it was a mistake that could be corrected with a follow-up bill.

Ward noted that major legislation always requires "trailer" bills to clean up errors.

Without changes to the bill Sebelius is signing into law, Ward said, Sedgwick County and the city of Wichita could enter into an agreement to share the revenue.

But, he said, it would be better if the legislation were fixed.

In addition to Wichita, Sebelius is signing the bill in Dodge City, Kansas City, Kan., and Columbus in southeast Kansas.

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