Kansas gambling regulators gave final approval Thursday for a business partnership to begin building a casino in southeast Kansas for the state lottery. Downstream casino hotel.
Don Brownlee, executive director of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, said the commission approved the contract for Kansas Crossing Hotel &, Casino at a meeting Thursday. The casino will be regulated by the commission, which Brownlee said approved the project 3-0, commission member David Moses abstained.
The $70 million casino was the least expensive of three proposals submitted and will be built south of Pittsburg. Its casino and 120-room hotel are expected to open next summer.
"We are grateful for approval today," Bruce Christenson, of Houston, Texas, lead investor and developer of Kansas Crossing said in a statement after the vote.
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Brownlee said work was expected to begin immediately on construction of the casino, which is expected to open in a year.
The Pittsburg-area casino is the last of four nontribal casinos allowed under a 2007 Kansas law. Casinos already operate in Dodge City, south of Wichita and in Kansas City, Kansas. In an arrangement unique among U.S. states, the Kansas Lottery is the legal owner of the casinos, and the state receives at least 22 percent of the gambling profits.
In June, a casino review board split 5-2 between Kansas Crossing's proposal and a $145 million project 28 miles to the south. Castle Rock Casino Resort's larger gambling hall and 200-room hotel would have been in Cherokee County and within two miles of the Downstream Casino in Oklahoma, which the Quapaw Tribe opened in 2008.
Several supporters of Castle Rock had urged the commission to reject the recommendation of Kansas Crossing made last week by the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board. Doing so would have started the selection process over.
Dennis McKinney, chairman of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission and a former state treasurer, said he didn't see a compelling reason to overturn the recommendation. Commission secretary Eileen King said the only reason she would vote against the review board's recommendation was if it were arbitrary or capricious.
Galena developer Steve Vogel, a supporter of the Cherokee County casino proposal, said he was disappointed by the vote.
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"Why have criteria if you don't follow it?" asked Vogel, who would have financially profited if the Cherokee County casino had been chosen. "I'm extremely disappointed. The state of Kansas is the loser here."