For Gene Davies, the issue is clear: Sumner County, not Sedgwick, supported bringing a casino to south-central Kansas.
So when the Kansas Star Casino gave most of the proceeds from Friday’s controlled demonstration to Sedgwick County groups, Davies and other Sumner County folks started asking why.
“We voted for the casino, we fought for the casino,” said Davies, a Caldwell resident. “All the demonstration money should go to Sumner County to show that they really appreciated us fighting for a casino.”
On Wednesday, the casino announced that Friday’s event, scheduled so the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission could evaluate if the casino was ready to open, raised almost $150,000 for charities.
It also announced it had made donations to two more charities – Mulvane Education Foundation and Futures Unlimited based in Wellington.
“Because of the success of the event, we were able to give some of the charities their largest gifts to date,” Peninsula Gaming spokeswoman Carrie Tedore said in an e-mail to The Eagle on Wednesday. “We added two more benefactors, one that serves individuals with developmental disabilities and one that supports students and education.”
For Davies, adding those charities was a step, but he still thinks all proceeds should have gone to Sumner County organizations.
Tedore earlier told The Eagle that Sumner nonprofit groups the casino approached about donations declined to accept money from the event.
The Eagle – as well as Davies – asked for a list of groups that declined donations, and Tedore gave the name of one charity, which could not be reached.
Asked if the casino added the two new charities because of criticism, Tedore said, “When we realized the success of the day, we received … approval to benefit two more local charities.”
Other groups that received money were the Kansas Food Bank Warehouse, based in Wichita; the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Mid-Kansas Affiliate of Wichita; Music Theatre of Wichita; Operation Freedom Memorial of Wichita; and Dress for Success of Wichita. The casino split the $147,113 evenly; each group received $21,016.
Elaine Clark of Wellington sent an e-mail to The Eagle expressing the same frustration as Davies.
“It seems that Wichita is ‘taking over’ everything about the casino,” she said. “To be honest, I voted against the casino, and I still wish it hadn’t been built. However, now that it is built, it frustrates me that Sedgwick County keeps trying to get more and more of the benefits.”
Tedore responded to Clark and said the casino attempted to reach out to Sumner County groups.
Clark then told Tedore that a group she supports, the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society, “has a research center whose ‘need’ list (is) much longer than the ‘funding’ list.”
“I can’t imagine any charities turning down money,” Clark told Tedore.