Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Wichita-area voters say no to casino

August 8, 2007


— Sedgwick County voters decided Tuesday against allowing either a resort casino in their county or adding slot machines to Wichita Greyhouse Park.

With 43 percent of voters casting a ballot, the issue of allowing a casino in the county failed 43 percent to 56 percent.

A separate issue on slot machines failed by 343 votes out of more than 100,000 ballots cast.

The county was the last in the state to vote on the gambling question. A gambling law enacted this year requires voter approval in the counties where there will be expanded gambling.

Supporters and opponents alike said a higher-than-normal voter turnout would bolster their side. The issues of slots at the track and building a casino were separate ballot questions.

"A big turnout is absolutely a strong advantage. Our strongest supporters are the nontraditional voters who don't normally turn out in special elections," said Doug Lawrence, Kansas Greyhound Association executive director and spokesman for the pro-gambling forces.

But Mark Kahrs, chairman of No Casinos in Sedgwick County, said, "We think a higher level of early voters helps because we worked very hard to get advanced voters to the polls."

Also watching the vote was adjoining Sumner County, which passed a gambling referendum in 2005 and would have exclusive rights in south-central Kansas to whatever Sedgwick County rejected.

In April, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed legislation allowing lottery-owned casinos in four areas - Ford County, Wyandotte County, either Cherokee or Crawford counties and either Sedgwick or Sumner counties, subject to voter approval.

The American Gaming Association says 11 other states have commercial casinos, but there are none with state-run resort casinos like Kansas will have. Twenty-eight states have Indian gambling, including 23 with casinos and five with games such as bingo. There are four Indian casinos on reservations in northeast Kansas.

The Kansas Supreme Court will have the final word on expanded gambling when it is asked to rule whether the law is constitutional.

Attorney General Paul Morrison plans to file a "friendly lawsuit" to test the law's constitutionality with the hope of it being upheld. Sebelius asked him to do that because she wants to remove the law from a legal limbo she fears could dissuade investors.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, which operates a resort casino north of Topeka, has threatened a legal challenge, contending the constitution requires the state not only to own the casinos, but manage them directly.

The court ruled in 1994 the term "lottery" in the state constitution was broad enough to include slots and casino games. But four of the seven current justices joined the court after that decision.


SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 4 months ago

Why would a community vote against casinos? For its citizens casinos mean: increased debt, higher divorce rates, more crime, increases in prostitution, more bankruptcy filings, increased rates of suicide, and so on.

Jackalope 10 years, 4 months ago

The big losers in this mess is the Kansas legislature as a whole. They pinned their efforts to fund schools, etc, on gambling. Now I guess they will have to really act like legislators and actually face the realities of their bungling efforts to run a state without adequate funds. Wake up legislators! Gambling in Dodge City and Sumner County will not pay the bill. Act like adults and either cut programs or raise the funds. A situation in which the State actually funds higher education only at a 30% level with general tax money makes the State a mere gadfly at a stockholder's meeting when it come to higher education. There is nothing worse than a loud mouth minority stockholder with no guts.

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