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Archive for Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Casino developers join forces

August 25, 2009

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— Developers competing for a contract to build a state-owned casino south of Wichita have joined forces to push a single proposal for a casino in south-central Kansas, one of the companies announced Monday.

Lakes Entertainment Inc., of Minnetonka, Minn., said that it would drop plans for a casino in Sumner County and become part of the group behind the rival Chisholm Creek proposal. That project originally was proposed by Foxwoods Development Co., of St. Louis.

Three developers originally had sought a contract with the Kansas Lottery to build and manage the Sumner County casino. Last week, Lottery officials said a partnership that included Kansas investors and two former executives with Las Vegas-based Mandalay Resort Group was joining Foxwoods. That narrowed the field to the Chisholm Creek and Lakes proposals.

Ed Van Petten, the Lottery’s executive director, said its officials learned about a week ago of efforts to bring Lakes Entertainment into the Chisholm Creek project, though talks may have started well before then. Van Petten said the combined group plans to build the $225 million project with its own funds without relying on debt, such as bank loans.

“Hopefully, the development would be more on the fast track that way,” Van Petten said.

Lakes issued a news release about its plans, but executives did not return telephone messages. Officials with Foxwoods and the Kansas-Mandalay Resort team also did not return telephone messages.

Chisholm Creek would be near Mulvane, about 20 miles south of Wichita, off the Kansas Turnpike exit for Kansas 53.

Lakes Entertainment’s announcement came a day before the Kansas Lottery Commission was to vote on forwarding the Lakes and Chisholm Creek proposals to a state selection board, which would have picked one. The Lottery Commission has the power to block casino proposals because it will own the new gaming under a 2007 law.

Van Petten said the Lottery Commission will meet today as planned, and he expects it to endorse the Chisholm Creek plan. The casino selection board still could reject it and force the Lottery to take new proposals, but that’s seen as unlikely.

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