Residents of two south-central Kansas towns remain at odds and are renewing their competition overproposals that would result in a state-owned casino being built in one of their communities.
One developer for a casino in Sumner County wants to build near Wellington, just off Kansas Turnpike exit 19. Two other developers have proposed casinos on Mulvane’s turnpike exit, about 14 miles north of the Wellington exit.
Last week, the Sumner County Commission endorsed a $225 million plan by Oklahoma-based Global Gaming LLC to develop a casino near the Wellington exit. Global Gaming and the two other developers — Harrah’s Kansas and Peninsula Gaming Partners — will present their plans to the Kansas Lottery Commission next month.
Wellington residents are energized after last year watching the Mulvane exit project — the only plan offered to the state during a second round of casino bidding — fizzle when the developer withdrew, citing economic concerns.
Residents signed more than 300 postcards in less than 24 hours to support Global Gaming’s proposal, said Shelley Hansel-Williams, executive director of the Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Before, it was me rounding up the troops. Now the troops are coming to me,” she told The Wichita Eagle. “They’re like, ’We’ve got to get on this.’ They’re ready.”
The casino would be an economic boost for Wellington, the Sumner County seat, which has lost population, jobs and businesses in recent years, she said.
In Mulvane, casino supporters are still supportive, despite having seen several casino bids come and go.
“They’ve seen a lot of proposals, so it’s a little bit old hat,” said Mulvane’s city administrator, Kent Hixson. “But that doesn’t mean you’re not supportive of developers who come along.”
Mulvane casino supporters who used to wear T-shirts touting a particular casino now wear “Casinos R’ Us, Exit 33” T-shirts. Some wore the shirts to last Tuesday’s county commission endorsement hearing. Supporters also sent more 200 cards supporting Peninsula Gaming’s proposal.
Patsy Allen, a Mulvane resident, said, “We’re still very active in getting the casino for Exit 33 because we think it’s the better location for the state of Kansas to generate revenue.”
The Kansas Lottery must negotiate contracts with all qualified developers by Oct. 20. The Mulvane City Council has endorsed Peninsula’s plan, but Harrah’s will need an endorsement before the lottery meeting.
The state’s casino review board will make the final decision.