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Archive for Thursday, December 27, 2007

Kansas Lottery receives second application for Dodge City casino

December 27, 2007

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— A group of Kansas investors applied Wednesday for permission to operate a casino in Dodge City.

Dodge City Resort and Gaming Co., based in Wichita, was the second applicant to beat Wednesday's deadline for submitting a Ford County gambling proposal to the Kansas Lottery. It will compete with Butler National Service Corp., of Olathe, for a contract to build and manage the casino for the Lottery.

The new applicant's president is Steve Joseph, a Wichita attorney who also is representing prospective developers of a Sumner County casino. He said he had caught "green felt fever" and believes Dodge City can develop into a tourism destination like Branson, Mo.

"To me, the best place to do this is Dodge City," Joseph said during a telephone interview. "It's a brand name."

Three application deadlines loomed within six days: Wednesday for Ford County, Friday for Sumner County and Monday for Wyandotte County. Another deadline, for Cherokee or Crawford counties, was Dec. 6.

The Lottery will own the new gambling. It can negotiate contracts with more than one developer for each area, but a seven-member review board will pick the one to receive the contract.

Butler National Service Corp. is a subsidiary of Butler National Corp., which operates a casino in Miami, Okla., for the Miami and Modoc tribes. It has a local partner, Boot Hill Gaming Inc., which was incorporated in 2003 by the Boot Hill Museum as part of an effort to promote tourism in southwest Kansas.

They're proposing to spend $65 million on a complex two miles west of downtown Dodge City. It would include a 100-room hotel, a conference center, 800 slot machines and 15 game tables.

Like Butler National, Dodge City Resort and Gaming plans a western theme for its complex. The first phase of its project, costing $60.3 million, includes a 125-room hotel and a casino with 800 slot machines and 20 tables.

Its 281-acre site is in the city's northeast corner, along a mile of U.S. 50. Plans call for eventually having three rodeo arenas, two horse-show arenas, a truck plaza and retail space, Joseph said.

The Lottery received only one application for Cherokee or Crawford counties, from Penn National Gaming Inc., which is proposing a $295 million complex off the only exit for Interstate 44 in Kansas. The Wyomissing, Pa., firm operates 12 casinos in 10 states and one in Canada.

Penn National also has filed an application to build a casino-and-hotel complex costing $365 million or more in Sumner County, near the Wellington exit on I-35. The Las Vegas-based Binion Family Trust also has said it will file an application for a casino near Wellington.

Also, two groups have filed applications for casinos near the Mulvane exit off I-35. One includes Topeka investors and Harrah's Entertainment Inc., and the second, Foxwoods Development Co. and MGM Mirage.

The Wellington proposals have been endorsed by the Sumner County Commission, but the Mulvane proposals have not. That has prompted one area legislator, Rep. Dick Kelsey, a Goddard Republican, to say that the Lottery shouldn't negotiate with those proposing the Mulvane cites.

"Any bids that do not have local support should be taken off the table for consideration," Kelsey told The Wichita Eagle.

The law allowing the new casinos, enacted in April, requires developers to obtain the endorsement of local officials for their casinos. Lottery Director Ed Van Petten said the law doesn't allow him to prevent a developer from applying, but he won't negotiate if it's clear local officials won't endorse a proposal.

The Lottery will have until March 5 to negotiate its contract with Penn National for Cherokee County. Its deadlines for the other three areas are at the end of March.

After the Lottery forwards its contracts to the review board, it has two months to make its decisions.

The Lottery hasn't received any Wyandotte County applications, but the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., has reviewed three, and another proposal is expected for Edwardsville.

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