Archive for Thursday, May 7, 2009

Learning curve to help part two of casino debate

May 7, 2009

It is round two of the Wyandotte County state-owned and –operated casino decision and officials with the Kansas Lottery say the process should run smooth now that the learning curve has been passed.

The decision process will focus on three applicants that threw their hats into the ring in early April to manage the casino facility.

Those up for consideration are Kansas Entertainment LLC, with the Hard Rock casino at the Kansas Speedway, Hollywood Casino Kansas, to be built near the future Schlitterbahn Vacation Village, and Golden Heartland Casino, to be built in Edwardsville.

“We have more knowledge this time around,” said Keith Kocher, director of gaming facilities for the Kansas Lottery. “The process should be easier in the sense that it may not be as time consuming. Hopefully we learned something the first time around.”

That first time around Kocher refers to was when the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board selected Kansas Entertainment LLC to operate the Wyandotte County casino last year. The group withdrew its application on Dec. 5, 2008, citing the economy as the reason, forcing the process to begin again.

As of now, the Kansas Lottery is in the process of negotiating contracts with the three applicants. The Lottery has until June 30 to reach an agreement with the companies before the proposals move on to the next stage.

Kocher said the Lottery has set an early, personal deadline of June 17 to have all the final contracts complete. He said, with the way the process is going so far, that goal should not be a problem.

Following the contract negotiations, the applicants will move on to the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board, a seven-member board that will eventually choose the successful applicant. The board has 60 days to make a decision, but Kocher said that timeline could be longer if extensions are requested. He added that he doesn’t think that will be an issue again.

“Last time all the local governments asked for extensions on endorsement side,” Kocher said of the endorsements that are required for the applications to move forward. “We don’t expect those extensions this time around. Everyone has been through the process, everyone is accustomed to the process.”

Kocher said that when everything is said and done, he expects Wyandotte County to have its casino decision by early to mid November.

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