Wichita — Dice are rolling and slots machines are dinging at a new south-central Kansas casino, even though its official opening isn't until Monday.
The Kansas Star Casino opened its doors Wednesday for members of its free-to-join Players Club. The "soft opening" continues through Saturday.
The Wichita Eagle reported that the casino, which is located about 15 miles south of Wichita in Mulvane, will close for Christmas and open to the public Monday.
Gamblers were expressing a mixture of concern and relief that they don't have to travel far to gamble anymore.
"I'm a little nervous this one's here," Whitney Schmeidler of Wichita said of the new casino. "It's so close. It's not as easy to go to Oklahoma. I and people I know may spend a little too much time here."
But John Goodwin of Wichita said he has been driving about 70 miles each way to First Council Casino in Newkirk, Okla., three times a week. He said the Mulvane casino "saves a lot of driving."
The casino will close for a few hours in the morning until it is able to hire more staff. Spokesman Carrie Tedore said the casino hopes to be open 24/7 within the first month.
The casino features slot machines along the sides and game tables are in the center. Video poker and quarter machines are at the back.
Dick Warren of Wichita said he came down with his brother to check out the casino, but he said he didn't plan to return until there's a poker room - one of the elements of the permanent casino that is now under construction. It will contain 50 percent more machines and 30 percent more gambling tables than are in the current building.
"These are the friendliest people I've ever seen," Warren said of the staff.