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Archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sebelius signs historic legislation authorizing state-run casinos

April 12, 2007

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Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is surrounded by media members, legislators, Woodlands officials and others Wednesday afternoon shortly after signing a bill authorizing expanded gambling at The Woodlands in Kansas City, Kan. The law allows for several casino-resorts in the state as well as 2,800 electronic video games at The Woodlands.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is surrounded by media members, legislators, Woodlands officials and others Wednesday afternoon shortly after signing a bill authorizing expanded gambling at The Woodlands in Kansas City, Kan. The law allows for several casino-resorts in the state as well as 2,800 electronic video games at The Woodlands.

Sebelius moving forward on gambling expansions

Governor Sebelius doesn't' want to wait for opponents to challenge a new law she signed today to expand gambling. Enlarge video

A Las Vegas-style casino-resort 30 minutes from downtown Lawrence could become a reality under historic legislation approved Wednesday by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius' signature on the bill that legislators approved last month ends 15 years of attempts by gambling supporters to widen gambling opportunities in Kansas.

It also starts a race to the courthouse in legal challenges to the law and a rush of activity among potential bidders for big-time casinos.

And the Legislature's work may not be done yet, as supporters and detractors of the bill have pointed out flaws that may need to be corrected when lawmakers return for a brief wrap-up session April 25.

But Wednesday, Sebelius touted the measure as she traveled the state on a publicity tour, putting a portion of her signature on the bill at stops in Wichita, Dodge City, Kansas City, Kan., and Columbus - all potential casino spots.

"It is about keeping money here in Kansas without raising taxes," she said.

Four casinos planned

Supporters of the law say once it's fully implemented it could generate $200 million annually in revenue. The law will take effect later this month, once it is published in the Kansas Register.

The law would allow casino-resorts in Wyandotte and Ford counties, as well as south-central Kansas and southeastern Kansas. Those could take several years to develop. It also would allow, possibly this year, 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.

Voters in the local counties would have to approve the casinos, slots or both.

Currently, there are four American Indian tribal casinos in northeastern Kansas that were established in the 1990s under compacts with the state, although the state collects no revenue from the operations.

Two of those tribes - the Kickapoo and Sac & Fox - have announced they will bid on building a casino in Wyandotte County. They own 80 acres near the Kansas Speedway and The Woodlands horse and dog track - about a half-hour's drive from Lawrence - and have in the past proposed a $210 million casino complex.

Legal challenges

But the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, which owns the largest casino in Kansas, Harrah's Prairie Band Casino in Mayetta, has said it would probably file suit, seeking to block the legislation.

Under the bill, the casinos and slots at the tracks would be state-owned and would be called "lottery gaming facilities." The Kansas Constitution allows only a state-owned lottery.

Opponents of the bill say it is too much of a stretch to say that the casinos will be state-owned when they will actually be privately operated, or that the games can be classified as lottery games.

Sebelius said she has discussed with Attorney General Paul Morrison the idea of bringing a legal challenge to the law to expedite a Kansas Supreme Court decision.

"We want investors to be confident," Sebelius said.

Morrison's spokeswoman, Ashley Anstaett, said she was reviewing the gambling measure "to assure a prompt review of its constitutionality."

Glenn Thompson, executive director of the anti-gambling group Stand Up for Kansas, said the Legislature bypassed traditional procedures to adopt the measure. It took a simple bill to extend the life of the Kansas Lottery and amended it without close scrutiny, he said.

"The whole debate process was a farce," Thompson said.

And problems have cropped up in the bill.

What some lawmakers are calling an inadvertent error could deprive the city of Wichita of $1 million in revenue sharing.

That and other mistakes have increased pressure to consider a so-called "trailer" bill to correct the situation when the Legislature returns for its wrap-up session.

Comments

jmadison 7 years, 8 months ago

Our governor has failed to provide economic opportunities due to her tax and spend policies, so now the state of Kansas is in the gaming business. Corruption will follow.

Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 8 months ago

wow the ice skating rink has put a dent in the gambling posters I guess. I am a little surprised.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 7 years, 8 months ago

Corruption will follow? How do you think we became the only state in the country to have state owned casinos and still not get as much of a share of the pot as other states do from the privately owned casinos?

The real question is how soon the casinos start demanding millions of tax dollars for "deferred maintenance".

I am truly amazed at how quickly the Sebelius administration has become corrupted. However, it was inevitable with the addition of senior members of the Republican's sleaze wing to her administration.

Porter 7 years, 8 months ago

I haven't heard any other alternatives to increase funds besides raising taxes or highway tolls.

If you think this legislature is going to allow a tax increase, you're crazy.

captain_poindexter 7 years, 8 months ago

Morrison should know that Sebelius discussing the state bringing a legal challenge to keep investors confident will be thrown out immediately b/c there would be no issue.

you can't bring a suit to avoid a suit.

one would think the former executive director of the kansas trial lawyers association would understand that.

guess not.

JSDAD 7 years, 8 months ago

I think the should put slots at wal-marts

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