Two Kansas casino proposals become one

TOPEKA | Developers have dropped one of three proposals for a state-owned casino south of Wichita, the Kansas Lottery’s top administrator said Tuesday.

Executive Director Ed Van Petten said developers who had initially filed two competing applications with the Lottery have joined together.

Petten said Foxwoods Development Co. of St. Louis and South Central Gaming Parters of Topeka will push Foxwoods’ plan, which calls for a $225 million Chisholm Creek Casino Resort near Mulvane. They have talked about combining forces since the spring.

“They’ve decided to move forward with one proposal,” Van Petten said. “We still don’t have anything official on it, but we’ve been told that.”

Another firm, Lakes Entertainment Inc., of Minnetonka, Minn., also has a proposal before the Lottery. It lists two possible sites for its $292 million Lakes Casino Resort: one near Mulvane, about 15 miles south of Wichita and the other, near Wellington, 14 miles further south.

Under a 2007 state law, the Lottery owns the rights to the new gambling and has the power to prevent proposals from being considered by a separate casino selection board. The Lottery Commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday to decide how many proposals go forward, and its agenda did not list the original South Central Gaming Partners plan.

Representatives of Foxwoods and South Central Gaming Partners, whose owners include local investors and two former executives of Las Vegas-based Mandalay Resort Group, did not return telephone messages Tuesday.

Foxwoods is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, of Connecticut, which operates a massive casino-and-resort complex there.

One of the two former Mandalay executives involved with the Gaming Partners group is Mike Ensign, the father of Nevada Sen. John Ensign. That’s brought the proposal additional scrutiny, because the senator confessed to an affair in June and disclosed in July that his parents had paid his mistress and her family $96,000.

But Van Petten said the payment wasn’t an issue for the Lottery because the elder Ensign hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing.