The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

State News

April 8, 2010

Kansas: Wichita-area casino in doubt after governor’s decision

The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. — A proposed casino south of Wichita was in doubt Thursday after Gov. Mark Parkinson refused to grant its developers a regulatory reprieve.

Partners in the $225 million Chisholm Creek project wanted to delay a state board’s decision on their plans. They said they must have local zoning issues settled and need to know whether legislators will rewrite Kansas’ gambling laws to make their project less profitable.

The Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board reluctantly put off a vote for 60 days after Chisholm Creek officials said this week that they’d abandon the project otherwise — even if the board approved it. But under state law, only Parkinson could extend the board’s April 19 deadline.

Parkinson rejected the board’s request for an extension. He noted that the state’s current budget already anticipates collecting an upfront, $25 million fee from Chisholm Creek for the right to build and manage the casino for the Kansas Lottery.

“The state of Kansas needs a clear understanding of its finances,” Parkinson said in a statement. “It is in everybody’s best interests to move forward with this proposal in a timely manner and to avoid further delays.”

Chisholm Creek attorney John Frieden said the partnership is still considering how to respond. He said Kansas law limits the governor’s discretion in denying a deadline extension.

“The action of the governor failed to follow the law and consequently has jeopardized state revenues this year and perhaps forever for a state-owned gaming operation in south-central Kansas,” Frieden said.

Chairman Matt All said the review board will meet before April 19 to vote on the project.

“We didn’t really see a strong reason to delay it either, but we were trying to be as accommodating to the applicant as possible,” he said.

Chisholm Creek would build its casino near Mulvane, about 20 miles south of Wichita. Under Kansas law, the lottery would own the rights to the new gambling and the gambling equipment, down to the cards and dice.

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