Cherokee County wants Crawford County casino to be blocked

The Kansas State Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board's Don Alexander, right, alongside Jeff Oakes, asks questions of a consultant on Tuesday June 23, 2015, at the Downtown Ramada Hotel and Convention Center in Topeka, Kan., before hearing three proposals for the construction of a casino in Southeast Kan. (Chris Neal/Topeka Capital-Journal via AP)

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — Cherokee County commissioners plan to ask the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission to reject a recommendation for a casino in southeast Kansas and to start the selection process again.

County commissioners voted Monday to ask the state to block the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board’s recommendation for the $70.2 million Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel in Pittsburg in Crawford County, The Joplin Globe reported ( ).

Last week, the review board chose the Kansas Crossing proposal, the least expensive of three plans, saying it would be the right size for the market. Board members also said Kansas Crossings’ principals had strong partnerships with local officials and that key investors and executives were already involved in casinos in Dodge City and south of Wichita.

Cherokee County officials favor a proposal for Castle Rock Casino, a $145 million casino that would be built in the county. Developers said last week they would offer 1,400 slot machines, 35 table games and a 16-table poker room, attracting more than a million visitors a year. In comparison, Kansas Crossing developers said their casino would have 625 slot machines and 16 poker tables, attracting an estimated 500,000 visitors annually.

Richard Hilderbrand, the chairman of the Cherokee County Commission, said the county believes the review board did not follow state law, which requires it to determine which contract “best maximizes revenue, encourages tourism and otherwise serves the interests of the people of Kansas.”

Carrie Tedore, a spokeswoman for Kansas Crossing, said the review board had some of the best consultants in the industry, studied the question for months and chose the proposal that was the best size and location for southeast Kansas.

“We look forward to giving southeast Kansas a facility of which they will be extremely proud,” Tedore said.

After consultants repeatedly questioned the viability of the Castle Rock proposal, the project’s partners added another $60 million commitment, bringing the investment by partners to $110 million. That left about $30 million to finance. Investors Rodney and Brandon Steven told the board they would personally guarantee the project.

The Kansas Crossing casino would be built south of Pittsburg. Its casino and 120-room hotel are expected to open next summer.

The southeast Kansas casino would be the last of four, nontribal casinos allowed under a 2007 Kansas law. The Kansas Lottery owns the casinos and the state receives at least 22 percent of the gambling profits.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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