Topeka Developers of a casino in Kansas City have asked legislators not to change the rules governing gambling in Kansas to benefit a potential competitor to the detriment of their $386 million project.
Kansas law allows slots at three dog and horse racing tracks, but track owners never have installed them, and their businesses remain closed. The track owners say the state’s take of slots revenue is too high for the machines to be profitable.
Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to reduce state and local governments’ share of the slot revenues, revitalize the tracks and expand gambling. The proposals would reduce the state’s share of slots revenues from 27 percent to 22 percent to increase the tracks’ profit margins and share the money with breeders and associations statewide.
But the developers of the casino at the Kansas Speedway object, saying the contract they negotiated with the Kansas Lottery could be in jeopardy if the law is changed.
Kansas Entertainment LLC is particularly concerned because one of the tracks is The Woodlands race track, just a few miles from the proposed casino site. Kansas Entertainment is a partnership between Penn National Gaming, Inc., and Kansas Speedway. The partnership wrote a letter to Gov. Mark Parkinson and legislative leaders saying changing the law would affect the gambling market in northeast Kansas.
“Anyone requesting to change the rules at this juncture should have done so when the law was written in the first place,” wrote Thomas Auriemma, president of Penn Hollywood Kansas, the managing member of the venture.
But legislators say the fact the state is looking for additional revenue and economic development is reason to consider changing the law.
Sen. Pete Brungardt, a Salina Republican and chairman of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, said reducing the amount tracks pay could encourage them to open new venues for Kansas dog and horse breeders to compete and foster continued growth in the state’s agriculture.