The Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane spent its first year in constant transition while managing to outperform the two other state-owned casinos on the gaming floor.
The Kansas Star opened in a temporary arena facility in December 2011 and continued to build its permanent casino, which it opened almost exactly a year later with additional slot machines and dining amenities. An adjoining 150-room Hampton Inn and Suites opened in mid-October.
In January, the Kansas Star started to remodel its former arena facility into an events and concert center. That facility should begin hosting events this summer.
And work will begin later this year on a 24-acre equestrian center that is expected to be ready by the 2015 equestrian season.
Once all the facilities are complete, the total investment in the property, near Exit 33 on the Kansas Turnpike, by the casino’s managers – Peninsula Gaming and Boyd Gaming, which bought Peninsula’s properties last spring – is expected to top out at about $325 million.
“We were charged with becoming a regional destination, and I think the amenities we added and the hotel we added and, this summer, the arena we will add will help us deliver on that concept,” said Scott Cooper, the Kansas Star’s general manager.
“I think we’re overall very pleased with the added amenities and the acceptance of our new products in the casino by our customers.”
Through all the changes, the Kansas Star earned $205.6 million in gambling revenue in its first 13 months of operation, according to the Kansas Lottery.
That topped the revenue earned by the Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City, which has earned $129.4 million since it opened in December 2009, and the Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, where gamblers have spent $124.1 million since it opened a month and a half after the Kansas Star.
Local governments have benefited from the gamblers who left their money at the Kansas Star. Through Jan. 31, Sumner and Sedgwick counties and the city of Mulvane had each received more than $2 million from the casino’s gaming revenue.
Gaming revenue includes the cash played on the casino’s slot machines and gaming tables after winnings have been paid.
By state law, 22 percent of Kansas Star’s gaming revenue goes to the state, while 2 percent is earmarked for the problem gambling and addictions grant fund and 3 percent is split equally between the three local governments.
The Kansas Star employs about 900 people, compared to 400 when it opened.
Admissions to the casino have risen by 1,000 visitors per day since the new facility opened.
Cooper said new amenities and added gambling machines have helped to draw more customers. The new casino includes 1,829 slot machines, 45 table games, a 10-table poker room and five restaurants.
Business at the hotel also has gone up, Cooper said.
“When they first opened, we hadn’t opened the new casino, so their occupancy was real soft,” Cooper said of the hotel. “Ever since we opened, their occupancy has really inched up.”
Construction to change the arena into an events center is expected to take about six months. The facility will have 3,400 fixed seats and 5,000 seats in concert mode. It will be a multipurpose facility, capable of hosting everything from concerts to sporting and business events
The goal is to have its first concert in July. The casino is working to book the opening act. It has a couple of choices, but nothing has been finalized, Cooper said. He declined to say what those choices are.
Plans for the equestrian center include 624 stalls on the south side of the casino property and two outdoor practice arenas.