Tribe, casino owner partner for Kansas facility

08/04/2014 6:59 PM

08/05/2014 7:35 AM

Wichita billionaire Phil Ruffin has joined with the Quapaw Tribe’s Downstream Casino in Oklahoma to bid for a state-owned casino at his defunct dog track in Crawford County.

The casino would be located at Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac, north of Pittsburg, which closed six months after it opened in 1995. The site already has infrastructure in place to develop a casino, giving it an early jump on the process, the tribe said in a release Monday.

The Kansas Lottery Commission must approve a contract with the developers, and the contract must be selected by a state review board, with final approval from the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.

The state has been trying to get bids for a casino for the Southeast gaming zone for six years. State-owned casinos in three other zones, including the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, have been up and running since 2010.

Legislation that went into effect in July lowered the investment required for a prospective casino developer in the Southeast zone from $225 million to $50 million in an effort to attract bids. The legislation also dropped the state gaming license fee from $25 million to $5.5 million.

The lottery would not say Monday whether it has received any applications for the Southeast zone yet. It won’t release information about applications until after the Dec. 19 due date for receiving them, said Sally Lunsford, Kansas Lottery spokeswoman.

The lottery will have 90 days to negotiate contracts with applicants who meet required thresholds. Those contracts will be sent to a review board – whose members will be selected by state political leaders – for final selection.

“This will be a full-scale, state-of-the-art casino,” Ruffin said in a statement released by the Downstream Casino on Monday. “I’d say it would be a slightly smaller version of Downstream Casino with the kind of style and quality the Quapaw Tribe is known for.”

The Downstream sits in the northeast corner of Oklahoma, bordering Kansas and Missouri.

Ruffin, who owns the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, also owns Wichita Greyhound Park in Park City. He has been trying to reopen the park with slot machines since 2007 when he closed it after voters in Sedgwick County narrowly rejected putting slots at the park. State lawmakers have yet to approve a new vote on the issue.

“I have long admired Quapaw Chairman John Berrey and the Tribe for their remarkable success in our region with their Downstream Casino Resort, and for their good will and strength in community partnerships,” Ruffin said in the statement. “They know how to get things done. I know how to get things done. This is a strong partnership.”

“This is a very positive force for bringing new jobs and new economic opportunities to the communities of Southeast Kansas,” Berrey said in the statement. “Partnering with Kansas native Mr. Ruffin makes a lot of sense. And we know that Camptown can be a great success for the region, the local community and its citizens.”

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