Commission needs more time to negotiate casino contracts

? The Kansas Lottery Commission needs more time to negotiate contracts with those wanting to manage one of the four proposed state-owned resort casinos.

The commission meets today to vote on whether to ask Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for an additional 60 days to negotiate 13 contracts in the four gambling zones created by last year’s law. All deadlines are this month.

“We wanted a little more time to review the process and make sure everything is totally correct,” Ed Van Petten, the Lottery’s executive director, said Monday. “Getting through the whole process has been quite a chore. Going through so many contracts takes time.”

Van Petten said he expects the governor will grant the additional time.

“We have talked to the governor’s staff and they agree it is necessary,” he said.

The commission also is negotiating with the owners of horse and dog tracks in Kansas City and Frontenac for slot machines at those facilities, but there’s no deadline to reach agreement.

The law that expanded gambling in Kansas calls for the Lottery to enter into contracts with as many applicants as it wants. The contracts then go to the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board, which makes the final selections. The selected casino developers must pass background checks by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.

Currently, the deadlines are Wednesday in the Southeast Zone, which has one applicant in Cherokee County; March 25 in the Southwest Zone, which has two applicants for Dodge City; March 27 for the South Central Zone in Sumner County, with four applicants; and March 28 for the Northeast Zone in Wyandotte County with six applicants.

Van Petten said the anticipated deadline extension could delay when the review board acts.