Archive for Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Casino crunch

Competition and tight financial markets are putting the squeeze on Kansas’ hopes for significant new gambling revenue.

September 30, 2008


Plans for four state-owned casinos in Kansas already were struggling before the latest economic crisis set in. Now, the chances of any significant state gaming revenue seem to be sinking by the minute.

Harrah's Entertainment still is moving forward on plans for a casino in Sumner County, but the developer chosen by the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board to operate a casino in southeast Kansas walked away from the project earlier this month saying it couldn't compete with an Oklahoma tribal casino on the state line.

Two developers got the state's OK last week for two more casinos, but not before the once-packed field had dwindled in Wyandotte County and concerns about the size of the proposed Dodge City casino caused two board members to oppose the project.

Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County has consistently been viewed as the most viable casino site in the state and drew applications from five developers. One developer withdrew last summer citing concerns that a Kansas casino might lose a competitive advantage if Missouri drops its daily loss limit law. Another developer backed out last week citing "current turmoil in the financial markets." Three developers remained in the running, however, and the state selected Kansas Entertainment, a partnership of Kansas Speedway and Cordish Co. to move forward on the project.

The aforementioned "turmoil in the financial markets" also was part of the discussion as the state board considered proposals for a Dodge City casino. The board chose Butler National Service Corp. reportedly because Butler's financing plans seemed more solid. The developer had supplied a letter from a Merrill Lynch director saying the lender was "highly confident" it could arrange $45 million in financing for the project.

A couple of board members were less confident, saying they feared the Butler plan was more than Dodge City and its surrounding area could support. The Butler plan calls for an $88 million complex, which is significantly larger than the other Dodge City proposal for a $70 million complex. The larger plans calls for building the casino complex in two phases, the first opening with 575 slot machines and 10 gambling tables in September 2009. The second phase, with a planned opening in 2011, would include 875 slots, 20 tables, restaurants, a convention and a 124-room hotel.

Want to take bets right now on whether Phase 2 will ever be built?

As it turns out, the timing of the 2007 legislation clearing the way for the Kansas Lottery to operate casinos couldn't have been much worse. The same economic downturn that is affecting the state budget also is making it less likely the state will realize any windfall of casino revenue.

The legislation was a gamble; now it looks like a gamble the state easily could lose.


SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 3 months ago

What new or existing government "service" is deserving of another dime of taxpayer money? I can't think of one. At this time our nation's history where family budgets are tight and government has grown like a cancer, we need to think about ways of returning money to the people, not getting more money from them.

Tony Kisner 9 years, 3 months ago

It would be easier and more cost effective to just put slot machines in retirement homes. With electronic banking the retiree's Social Security check could be deposited in an account which could only be accessed with a debit type card right in the slot machine, kind of a fun ATM machine. I can't really think of a better way to get at that money before it is sucked up by Federal Estate taxes.

RogueThrill 9 years, 3 months ago

Time to diversify our sin tax income base. Legalize pot and tax the bejeezus out of it, that will make some money.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 3 months ago

They're getting ready to build a new Hard Rock Cafe casino out by the Kansas Speedway. I could really care less about the new casino but putting it in means lots of overtime for the hubby!!!!

Rationalanimal 9 years, 3 months ago

Because it was a stupid idea in the first place, a close second only to the wind farms in central Kansas. Sebellius' economic genius can only be compared to Jack and the Bean Stalk.

John Hamm 9 years, 3 months ago

hawkperchedatriverfront how right. There's been a few instances where I'd like to have gone up north and lost a few dollars while spending some time relaxing (instead of driving to MO or north of Topeka) but the powers that be in Lawrence thought it was a bad idea just like some people I know thought Kansas Speedway would be a flop.

Jaylee 9 years, 3 months ago

hawkperchedattheriverfrontcould not disagree more. f!ck the casinos!!! if you or anyone in a seat of power thinks lawrence needs a casino, get out.seriously, go live the rest of your days somewhere with a bunch of casinos in peace. and you can piss away all the money you want. and we'll never have to hear about it cause you wont have money for internet anymore and wont be able to spout your skewed viewsit takes some pent up impulse flowing through your viens to believe a casino could save a town or any size of settlement. that or youre really attracted to the idea of the people around you looking at their family or town or school system in shambles, then turn away to put their funds in a vacuum that gives absolutely nothing to the community. i think someone actually made a comment in this thread about education (for the casinos) dealing with less money. i wish that person well in their life in which they think education is not as important as a bunk ass revenue source like a casino. geez.or maybe you just dont know much about casino towns. i think it was deadwood south dakota? that was a good one. cherokee north carolina. ever take a drive up 35N thru to des moines/iowa city and seen TERRIBLE'S CASINO!!!! man you can see that cowboy from miles off. all those towns SUCK!! and its cause some time ago, someone thought a casino would be a good economy booster. and they were. but the towns SUCK!!my grandmother gambles and i will never understand it. she has driven from cali to illinois making alllll the stops. we laugh and joke about it but i just think its another social disease

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