State plans hearings on revoking Woodlands’ racing license

The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission voted unanimously Monday to hold hearings next month aimed at revoking state racing licenses of the Woodlands and two other pari-mutuel tracks.

Owners of The Woodlands in Wyandotte County, Wichita Greyhound Park and Camptown, in Frontenac, Kan., closed the tracks after rejecting deals for state-owned slot machines at their tracks claiming the state’s 40 percent tax bite didn’t leave enough for them to make a profit.

The commission’s action Monday gave the tracks and their non-profit license holders 30 days notice of its intent to revoke the licenses if progress is not made toward restarting racing programs at the pari-mutuel facilities

“The greyhound and horse racing industries in Kansas are important to the state’s economy,” said commission director Stephen Martino.

“It’s the commission’s responsibility to look out for the best interests of the state’s racing and breeding industries. Those industries will wither without racing at our race tracks,” he said.

“The commission hopes that the existing license holders work hard during the next 30 days to restart their racing programs.

“Absent that occurring, the commission may determine that it owes it to the people of Kansas and to the state’s racing industry to see if other entities would be interested in operating a race track.”

Woodlands officials could not be reached late Monday.

Woodlands principal owner Howard Grace and Wichita businessman Phil Ruffin Sr. have both indicated they hope to re-open the tracks with slots if they can successfully lobby state lawmakers for a tax reduction next year.

The revocation hearings are set for Topeka Oct. 13-14.