The Kansas Star Casino near Mulvane plans to open to the public the day after Christmas, if it clears a few regulatory hurdles.
Iowa-based Peninsula Gaming, which is building and managing the casino for the state, had expected to open it early next year. But good weather during construction and a smooth flow of other preparations have helped move up the opening target date to Dec. 26.
“That’s the date we are shooting for and we’re on track for that,” said Scott Cooper, general manager.
Before it can open, the casino must hold at least one successful controlled demonstration for the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission in order to get its permanent license. A demonstration is scheduled for Dec. 16.
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About 250 Kansas Star employees had received temporary or permanent work permits through November, with about 300 licensing applications pending, according to the racing and gaming commission, . The casino has said it will employ more than 500 people when it opens, and 800 when the final phase is completed.
The commission also must approve the casino’s surveillance and security plans; it plans to review them when it holds its monthly meeting in Mulvane on Monday. The commission approved the casino’s internal controls plan last month. Plans for internal controls, security and surveillance are considered confidential by the commission, so they are considered during executive session and not made public.
Monday’s meeting will include a tour of the casino by commissioners during an executive session so they can decide whether to grant the Kansas Star a conditional license to hold the controlled demonstration. Commission regulations require casinos to be certified before holding any casino-style gambling.
Controlled demonstrations are invitation-only events that involve gambling with real money. They are held to show whether a casino is fit to open.
Construction on the Kansas Star broke ground in March. The casino will open as an interim facility, with 32 gaming tables and 1,310 slot machines, inside a building that will become the Kansas Star’s events center.
The permanent casino is on track to open in November 2012. It will include 50 gaming tables, 2,000 slots, a five-table poker room, five restaurants and a 150-room hotel.
The final phase, to be completed in early 2014, is expected to expand the hotel to 300 rooms, and include the opening of an equestrian center.
Cooper said hiring and operational preparations have gone smoothly. Construction crews battled the summer’s heat wave but didn’t face major storms or flooding that could have delayed the project.