The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

State News

April 6, 2010

Kansas: Wichita-area casino’s fate could rest with governor

The Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. — The fate of a proposed casino south of Wichita rested Tuesday with Gov. Mark Parkinson after developers and consultants showed skittishness about the project.

Officials with Chisholm Creek said they worry the Legislature will rewrite the state’s gambling laws this year and undercut the profitability of the proposed $225 million casino near Mulvane, about 20 miles south of Wichita.

Meanwhile, consultants for the state expressed reservations about Chisholm Creek’s proposed contract to build and manage the casino for the Kansas Lottery. One issue is how the developer would deal with competition from a potential Indian casino in the area.

The state’s Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board had planned to decide Tuesday whether Chisholm Creek could move forward. But Chisholm Creek requested a 60-day delay and told the board it would abandon its venture if a decision wasn’t postponed — even if the board approved the project.

Board members were frustrated but voted for the reprieve, despite an April 19 deadline set by Kansas law for a decision.

As governor, Parkinson can extend the deadline, and the board planned to ask him to do it. Board members weren’t confident Parkinson would agree, but Chisholm Creek attorney John Frieden said the law doesn’t appear to give the governor much discretion.

Parkinson’s office did not immediately respond to questions about his position. The review board began making plans for another meeting before April 19, just in case.

Board member Jim Bergfalk, of Mission, said the board had no choice but to delay its decision.

“I resent it,” he said. “I resent the way it came about.”

The board’s decision on Chisholm Creek already had been delayed once.

In December, the partnership was allowed to renegotiate its contract with the lottery to deal with a casino proposed by the Wyandotte Nation. The northeast Oklahoma tribe is seeking the federal government’s permission to build its casino on 10 acres of land in Park City, north of Wichita.

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