Judge rules Kandu is illegal

A co-owner of the Highlands Gastropub and Cardroom said he's hoping to fight a Sedgwick County District Court ruling Friday that the business' Kandu Challenge card game is a game of chance and thus prohibited by Kansas law.

"We're fighting this, doing everything we can to stay alive," Shane McCullough said.

Judge Tim Lahey's ruling Friday was not what McCullough expected.

"Very, very surprised and extremely disappointed in our district courts," McCullough said. "Obviously we feel we presented a sound case with considerable expert witness testimony and studies."

McCullough said the business, at 3731 N. Rock Road, reopened a couple of weeks ago. The reopening included its restaurant and bar. It also offers two daily Texas Hold 'Em tournaments.

A planned grand reopening set for today will be held as planned. McCullough had expected the grand reopening to include the return of Kandu Challenge.

Highlands Gastropub closed in late July after a judge denied the pub's request for a temporary restraining order against Attorney General Steve Six. He issued a cease-and-desist order in June, demanding the Highlands Gastropub "stop conducting a gambling operation," according to Six's office.

"We are pleased the court agreed with our view that this games was just another creative form of gambling," Six said in a news release Friday.

McCullough and his partners, who are incorporated as Three Kings Holdings LLC, had argued the game was one of skill, not chance. They said it resembles Texas Hold 'Em with an important difference: Players are allowed to see the faces of shuffled cards for a few seconds before they are dealt. That lessens the chance involved in the outcome.

McCullough said that based on statements made on the record in court, "there may still be a future for Kandu."

He said without Kandu and a lot of customer support, Highlands Gastropub will struggle to remain open.

"We hope that the... people that supported our position in this case will be helping us stay in business," McCullough said.