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Sumner Co. endorses 2 casino applicants

May 12, 2009

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— Two applicants to operate a state-owned casino in south-central Kansas have received the required local endorsement from the Sumner County Commission.

The commission voted Monday for Foxwoods Development, of St. Louis, which wants to build at the Mulvane exit off the Kansas Turnpike. The commission also endorsed Lakes Entertainment, of Minnetonka, Minn., which wants to build at either the Mulvane or Wellington exits.

The commission didn’t back a third applicant, South Central Gaming Partners. However, it could be endorsed by the Mulvane City Council because one of its three proposed locations near the Mulvane exit is within the city.

That partnership includes two former executives with Mandalay Resort Group and a group of Topeka investors who had been in a partnership with Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., of Las Vegas.

Harrah’s was selected during earlier bidding for the Sumner County casino by a state casino review board but withdrew in November, citing the economy. That prompted the Kansas Lottery, which owns the gambling, to reopen bidding.

Janis Hellard, director of the Sumner County Economic Development Commission, said the commission took less than an hour to pick Foxwoods and Lakes, and supporters of the three applicants were subdued and calm.

“We don’t care where it is. We just want one. We want the jobs and the property taxes and the tourism to come to our county,” she said.

Foxwoods proposed an initial investment of $225 million with 2,000 slot machines and 40 table games.

Lakes proposed starting with a $240 million facility that would include 2,000 slots and 60 tables either at the Mulvane or Wellington exits.

South Central Gaming Partners proposed an initial $225 million investment in a casino with 2,000 slots and 367 tables.

Unlike last year’s applicants, none of these applicants proposed a hotel or amenities like a golf course in their first phase of construction.

The local endorsement is required before the Lottery can start negotiating with the applicants. It will have until June 30 to reach agreement and can forward as many contracts as it wants to the review board, with the selection subject to approval by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.

A 2007 gambling law allows one state-owned casino each in Ford, Sumner and Wyandotte counties and either Crawford or Cherokee counties. But applicants withdrew last year in all but Ford County.

Last month, three applicants applied for Wyandotte County: a partnership of Kansas Speedway and Baltimore-based Cordish Co; Penn National Gaming Inc., of Wyomissing, Pa., and Golden Gaming Inc., of Las Vegas.

The Lottery has reopened bids three times for Cherokee and Crawford counties, with no takers. Penn National pulled out of Cherokee County last year, citing competition from a nearby Quapaw tribal casino in Oklahoma.

Only the Dodge City Casino and Resort is under construction. It plans to open in November.

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