The state casino review board has picked Peninsula Gaming to build and manage a casino near Mulvane.
The board voted 6-1 this morning in favor of Peninsula over Global Gaming, which planned a casino near Wellington.
Peninsula plans a $260 million Kansas Star casino to be phased in over four years. Plans call for an interim casino to open in February 2012 in a facility that eventually will become an events/convention/equestrian center.
The interim casino will include 1,310 slots, 32 gaming tables, a 50-seat snack bar and several food and beverage kiosks.
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The permanent casino is scheduled to open in January 2013. It will include more slots and tables, a 10-table poker room, a buffet, steak house, food court, two bars and a 150-room hotel.
When completed in 2015, the Kansas Star will have 2,000 slots, 50 tables, a 300-room hotel, an RV park, a gift shop, and an expanded equestrian events/entertainment/convention center.
Board members said Peninsula's Kansas Star would maximize revenue at a Mulvane location. They also preferred its shorter completion time, and favored its plans for an equestrian complex over Global's proposed auto race track.
Jim Bergfalk of Mission said he voted for Peninsula because consultants said a Mulvane site would attract more gaming revenue than a Wellington site.
He also said the horse industry helped the effort to pass casino gambling in the legislature.
“We wouldn’t have gaming in Kansas if it wasn’t for the equine industry,” he said. “It is a part of the state of Kansas that needs recognition.”
Jackie Vietti, president of Butler County Community College, said the shorter time frame of Peninsula’s project would help maximize revenue. Global had proposed phasing in its development over 12 years as opposed to Peninsula’s four.
As for location, Vietti said, the closer site to Wichita would matter especially if a tribal casino is built in Park City.
“Then, I believe, distance does indeed matter more,” Vietti said.
Board member Garry Bos-ton of Newton cast the only vote for Global.
He said he was concerned about residents near the Mulvane site and issues of drainage.
“There’s a lot of things that will have to be done at the site, and there’s going to be a lot of people who will be affected,” he said.
He also said infrastructure already was in place in Wellington, and he thought that Global’s proposed EMS and police facility would be important.
None of the board members mentioned the legal problems Peninsula’s top executives face in Iowa regarding alleged illegal campaign contributions. Board chairman Matt All said when the meeting started that the state's gambling law charged the board to consider the two contracts to determine which was best for the state.
He also said the law gave board members power to consider a broad array of information, but that it was up to each member to weigh that information.
The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission will make background checks into the company and key personnel before approving a 15-year contract with the state.
Sumner County’s board of commissioners had endorsed and actively supported Global’s proposal. Eldon Gracy, the only Sumner County commissioner who attended today’s meeting, declined to comment.
Jack Potucek, the county’s counselor, said the commissioners were disappointed with the vote, but that they would work with Peninsula to make the Kansas Star a success.
“This is Sumner County’s casino, and I think the county will do everything possible to facilitate a successful circumstance,” he said.
Peninsula also plans to contribute $1.5 million annually to an education fund for all school districts in Sumner County and Mulvane.
This is the third time the board has met to vote on placing a casino in Mulvane. Harrah’s won the bid but backed out in 2008, and Lakes Entertainment withdrew earlier this year.
“I’m glad to see that we’re finally moving forward and hope we get something built,” said Dale Waller, owner of Laurie’s Kitchen in Mulvane.
Peninsula Gaming, based in Dubuque, Iowa, owns two Diamond Jo casinos in Iowa, Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino in Opelousas, La., and the Amelia Belle Casino in Amelia, La.