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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Sebelius confirms she’ll sign casino bill

Announcement follows 21-19 Senate vote in wee hours

March 29, 2007, 6:54 a.m. Updated March 29, 2007, 11:01 a.m.

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today confirmed she will sign into law a bill that could allow expansion of casino gambling.

"This is an opportunity for our state to generate out-of state dollars from visitors, to reinvigorate Kansas agribusinesses raising horses and greyhounds, and to maximize state revenue while maintaining strict regulatory oversight," Sebelius said in a prepared statement.

Her announcement came after an early-hours 21-19 vote in the Kansas Senate Thursday. The vote followed a dozen hours of supporters holding the floor, preventing opponents from calling for a vote they felt would kill the bill. Approval of the House-passed bill also ended 15 years of failure by gambling promoters.

State Sen. Marci Francisco voted for the bill; Sen. Roger Pine was opposed.

But the Prairie Band Potawatomi, which operates a resort casino north of Topeka, will challenge the law once it's enacted because it violates the Kansas Constitution, said tribal chairwoman Tracy Stanhoff.

"I think we've been sideswiped. The state has been taken in the wrong direction," Stanhoff said, adding the legislation "will severely impact our operation."

Opponents argue the constitution requires the state not only to own the casinos and slots at tracks, but to manage them directly, rather than delegating management to a private company as the legislation envisions.

"I think the statute is constitutional but I anticipate a legal challenge and the courts will decide," said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence.

While the state would hire private companies to manage the new gambling, it would own and operate the games, likely making Kansas the first state in the nation to do so.

There are 11 states with commercial casinos, and the National Conference of State Legislatures says it's unaware of any state-operated casinos, with the exception of video lottery terminals in states like South Dakota, Rhode Island and Oregon.

Supporters believe the new gambling eventually could generate $200 million a year in revenues to the state to be used for debt reduction, infrastructure development and reducing local property taxes.

Doug Lawrence, a lobbyist for the Kansas Greyhound Association, predicted that tracks will have slot machines by the end of the year.

But gambling promoters acknowledge casinos won't be operating for about three years.

Supporters of the bill said Kansans already are gambling. There's the lottery, four tribal casinos in Kansas and near the state line in Oklahoma, wagering on dog and horse races plus Missouri casinos in Kansas City and St. Joseph.

The measure calls for large, tourist-attracting hotel-and-casino complexes in Ford County, Wyandotte County, either Sedgwick or Sumner county and either Cherokee and Crawford county. The state would receive 22 percent of their revenues, which opponents said isn't enough.

"We're giving away the farm tonight and I believe it's a vote we'll regret," said Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita.

Wichita Greyhound Park, the Woodlands in Kansas City and the now-closed Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac would divide 2,200 slot with another 600 slots once the state signed contracts with casino managers.

Opponents argued expanded gambling would hurt existing restaurants and entertainment businesses and cause social ills, such as an increase in addicted gamblers, bankruptcies and broken families. They had hoped to kill the bill and - in a high-stakes tactic that backfired - forced the vote that led to passage.

"I'm glad I don't have to explain this to my family and my grandchildren when it goes into the Kansas history books," said Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell.

Supporters noted the bill says a casino or slots at the tracks won't be allowed in a particular county unless voters there approved.

"This has been a hard vote for all of us," said Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, who supported the measure. "I believe strongly, so strongly, in the people's right to vote."

Sebelius said: "The people of Kansas will finally have a chance to decide for themselves on whether responsible gaming should be in their communities."

The 98-page proposal was drafted by a bipartisan coalition in the House and amended into a Senate bill extending the lottery and sent it back to the Senate. Lottery ticket sales would stop on June 30 without the extension.

The House's action left the Senate with the choice of demanding negotiations and attempting to draft a compromise on gambling, or accepting the House's version and sending the bill to Sebelius.

Supporters voted 22-18 Wednesday morning to put the bill in a House-Senate conference committee to buy them time to get enough votes for passage.

Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, offered a motion to force a second vote - to accept the House's version - hoping it would fail, killing the bill. But as supporters continued their collective filibuster, it gave them time to find enough votes.

After Barnett made his motion, supporters seized the floor, taking turns, touching on a variety of topics, from how expanded gambling will help the state to explaining the rules for playing blackjack and other card games.

"The procedural convulsions that consumed many hours gave many senators time to think and talk, and I think that's what tipped the balance," Schmidt said.

Comments

oldgoof 7 years, 9 months ago

Once people know what all is in this bill, they will be ashamed for the legislators having voted for it. This includes you Senator Francisco.

gr 7 years, 9 months ago

If the state is supposed to set the example, let's have Lawrence open their own casino. And, any private businesses. If it's ok for the state, it must be ok for everyone.

EXks 7 years, 9 months ago

Legalized gambling in Kansas?? Wow, how progressive!

oldgoof 7 years, 9 months ago

This bill is largely a private bail-out for the parimutual industry, which will now be allowed slots. Kansas I think will be the first state in the nation to ACTUALLY OWN casinos, four of which are authorized by the act, after a local vote. And Sebelius supports this too.

karolynk 7 years, 9 months ago

Once again this just proves how idiotic Kansas really is and the gov. now joins the idiots!

don_burgess 7 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for the pictorial LJW! You got it right. A visual depiction of gambling for what it really is. A lonlely, elderly, overweight ,unheatlhy looking senior sitting alone spending money she probably cant afford to lose on the slot mnachines.

Thanks for not showing a bunch of energetic, attractive, young, happy people winning fortunes.

Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 9 months ago

dang don_burgess assuming alot there are you not.

Raider 7 years, 9 months ago

The thing is, all of you people who don't agree with it don't have to participate in it. Therefore you're not participating in the corruption of society and you're not thrusting sin on the innocent.

Centrist 7 years, 9 months ago

I'm all for it, even if I don't go to one, as long as other taxes are reduced.

Onward ho!

Harry_Manback 7 years, 9 months ago

Who cares if anyone else wants to gamble? It's not your money, it's theirs. That old lady made me think of my grandma. Her yearly highlight was a trip to Atlantic City with all her old lady friends to go gambling. She worked hard for her money, raised two successful children and lead a great life. I think she should be able to spend her money however she pleases. It bugs me when people moralize and make choices for other adults whose lives they know nothing about.

fletch 7 years, 9 months ago

"Won't somebody please think of the children."

Steve Jacob 7 years, 9 months ago

Honestly, around here, will more people gamble because we have a casino on this side of the line? Nope. Sure Wichita and Dodge wil have some problems, but the good out-weighs the bad.

And FYI... How long before the Isle of Capre is shut down? The Argosy just go a new hotel/spa so they should be okey.

TheNorthlander 7 years, 9 months ago

So let me get this straight...the State of Kansas will be running the operations?

The same state government that can't fiscally operate its own damn state, is running a casino enterprise?

And only gaining 22% of the profits.

Well of course this is due for failure. This idea is about as harmful as the conservative board of educ. members actually accepting teaching positions in our schools.

don_burgess 7 years, 9 months ago

Like cable television, gambling is a waste of time and money.

WilburM 7 years, 9 months ago

Most Remarkable (and Worst) Spin of the Day -- Republicans blame Democrats in Kansas Legislature for Passing Gambling Bill

Here's the KS GOP Press release, this from Rs who control both houses by huge majorities (the Senate 30-10!). But it's the evil Ds who have done this terrible thing in the dark of night. Well, it was former Gov. candidate Barnett who made the motion to concur -- figuring that it would lose. It turns out he can't count votes and better than he can run for Governor. The Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRISTIAN MORGAN

March 29, 2007 785-234-3456

Democrat Midnight Roulette Pays off - Big Time!
TOPEKA -- After filibustering for nearly twelve hours, Democrats in the Kansas Senate pushed through an unprecedented measure to make Kansas the first state in the nation to own and operate casinos. The 21-19 vote, which came in the early morning hours, came after hours of procedural game-playing by Senate Democrats which included, among other things, supporters of the measure standing and reading of rules for playing poker, blackjack, and craps. "This isn't the first time we've watched legislators try to wear down opponents and I doubt it will be the last," said Kris Kobach, Chairman of the Kansas Republican Party.

"What it demonstrates is how completely the Kansas Democratic Party has been bought and paid for by casino interests here in Kansas and beyond," said Kobach.

"The Casino Industry put their money where they think they have the best chance of getting what they want," said Christian Morgan, Executive Director of the Kansas Republican Party. "Clearly, gaming industry financiers have put their money on the Kansas Democratic Party. This morning, those bets paid off big-time"

 The bill, guaranteed to be signed into law by Governor Kathleen Sebelius, authorizes the development of four destination casinos that are to be owned and operated by the State of Kansas.

gr 7 years, 9 months ago

"if you all don't like it...don't gamble."

"I'm all for it, even if I don't go to one, as long as other taxes are reduced."

"Who cares if anyone else wants to gamble? It's not your money, it's theirs."

What a bunch of selfish non-caring individuals. You just as well say, I'm all for kicking the homeless out of Lawrence. If you don't like it, don't be homeless. As long as my taxes are reduced, I don't care about anyone else. It's not my way of life, it's theirs.

WabNishKum 7 years, 9 months ago

Once again the state is mounting an attack on the revenue stream of some of the most disenfranchised citizens of the state, Indian people. Why must the State always lust for what Indian people have?

TheNorthlander 7 years, 9 months ago

gr--

Sometimes all you can do is look out for yourself.

People smoke, drink, bet, gamble, have affairs, do drugs, go to strip clubs.

And there are venues for all of these, legally and illegally of course.

I don't partake in any of the aforementioned (except drinking), but others do. It's their choice, so knock yourself out. I spend more time taking care of myself than caring what the hell others do with their choices.

You should start too. I'll bet you'd have more friends.

whistlestop75 7 years, 9 months ago

If you read more of the bill I believe it says the developers have to put a 25 million dollar deposit with the State and they have to build at least a 250 million dollar facility...22% plus the deposit and a great resort...I don't think the State sold the farm...let the locals vote and let people spend money on this side of the State line...this time the Legislature did not dictate morality...and it is a good thing.

purplesage 7 years, 9 months ago

Another reason we should have voted for somebody else besides $ebeliu$ Gambling (call it what it is) is a blight on our society. It is a compulsive / addictive behavior for some and wider access means expansion of the misery it brings. We need no casinos, no lottery not more and more! Thanks to Roger Pine for the opposition to the bill.

oldgoof 7 years, 9 months ago

Hey folks, before you Sebelius-blast too much, remember the Republican dominated House and Senate passed this Legislation. .. Marion: Bond and I must hang out at different places than you. Baccarat abounds. :)

purplesage 7 years, 9 months ago

Republican dominated, so some cross-overs help with the agenda. They all have dollar signs mesmerizing them. It clouds common sense and morality. Pay attention to who voted for expanded gambling and remember that, Rep or Dem next time you get to vote.

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