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Archive for Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In first 8 months, returns good for Kansas casino

August 31, 2010

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— Despite the poor economy, the first state-owned casino in Kansas is exceeding revenue projections and drawing customers from throughout the Midwest, according to lottery officials.

Since it opened in December 2009, the Boot Hill Casino & Resort in Dodge City has brought in total revenue of about $24.2 million. That puts the casino on track to meet its first-year goal of $39.7 million, said Ed Van Petten, executive director of the Kansas Lottery.

“We’re somewhat amazed and very pleased,” Van Petten told The Hutchinson News. “It’s a very first-class facility. The numbers are strong. We were fearful that the projections were aggressive, but they are meeting them and are slightly above.”

The casino’s revenues have meant $362,801 apiece for Dodge City and Ford County.

“The numbers have gotten stronger,” Van Petten said. “June showed a slump, but July and August are very good. The management is making money. They are being successful.”

General Manager Mark Kashuda said the casino is averaging more than 60,000 visitors a month, with about 70 percent of the visitors 45 and older.

“Back when we first opened and the weather was cold, we had a few instances when we had a line of people waiting outside the casino,” Kashuda said.

Kashuda said most of the casino’s customers are from Kansas.

“Oklahoma is second, Texas and Colorado, and then it’s a tie between Nebraska and Missouri,” he said.

Nettie Bray of Sterling tried her luck on the quarter slot machine last week at the casino.

“I won just a little bit,” said Bray. She said it was her fourth trip to the casino, and she’s thrilled to have a casino so close to home, rather than going to Topeka or Oklahoma for occasional gaming.

Dodge City Police Chief Robin James said the opening of casino has not led to an increase in crime.

“When we do get calls, it might be for something medical, nothing out of the ordinary,” he said.

The first thing visitors see when they walk into the casino is a contact number for those with problem gambling. And 2 percent of all revenue from the casino goes to a fund for treatment and prevention for substance abuse and problem gambling.

Mark Blakeslee, who teaches treatment for problem gambling at Dodge City Community College, said he supports the casino but cautions that problems that may arise.

“The casino is a necessary thing for the revenue to keep the state going and will generate a lot of money,” he said. But it also could create problems without strategies to encourage people to gamble in moderation.

“Gambling is entertainment,” Blakeslee said. “If you’re going to the casino to win, you’re barking up the wrong tree.”

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