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Fate of Wyandotte County casino plan to be decided this week

Kansans will learn this week if a casino will come to fruition in Wyandotte County.

The Kansas Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board meets today to discuss the proposed casino in Wyandotte County. The board is expected to approve or deny the plan on Wednesday. This follows Monday night's approval by Wyandotte County's Board of Commissioners of a revised preliminary development plan.

The proposal calls for Hollywood Casino to be built overlooking Turn 2 of the Kansas Speedway. It could open as early as January 2012. A consultant has estimated that the casino will generate $203 million in gambling revenues during its first year.

The proposal was submitted by Kansas Entertainment LLC, which is a partnership between International Speedway and Penn National Gaming, which also operates Argosy Casino in Riverside.

Kansas Entertainment has said that phase one includes a casino with 2,300 slot machines, 86 table games, 28,000 square feet of food and entertainment. Phase two calls for a 250-room resort-style hotel. Kansas Entertainment LLC must pay the Unified Government penalties if hotel construction does not "commence" within 24 months of the casino opening.

Kansas Entertainment LLC has also pledged to bring a second NASCAR race to Kansas Speedway. The group will pay a $10 million penalty if a second race is not awarded by the 2011 season.

The facility review board had earlier expressed concern that the hotel was not in phase one of the project. However Kansas Speedway President Jeff Boerger said the hotel wasn’t feasible given the economy. He and others have said it makes the most sense to wait a few years until the economy improves.

“One thing we don’t want to do is cannibalize the existing businesses,” Boerger said.

He was optimistic on Monday that the state board would approve the plan.

“It’s great for the Kansas taxpayer,” Boerger said.

Boerger made the comments Monday immediately after Wyandotte County's County Commission approved a revised preliminary plan for the proposed casino at the Kansas Speedway.

The procedural move is yet another move toward construction.

Boerger told Mayor Joe Reardon that the project would bring 2,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs to the county.

If the project is approved by the state, Reardon told the applicant that he’d like to see them back before the Commission as soon as possible to move forward with design plans, signage and more. He acknowledged that the plan has gone through a tremendous amount of scrutiny at all levels of government, but he was hopeful that the oversight will be well worth it.

“It’s extremely important to the community and state,” Reardon said.

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