Business

State awards contract for southeast casino to Kansas Crossing

Kansas Crossing will feature 625 slot machines, 16 table games, a 123-room hotel, three restaurants and a 600-seat entertainment center.
Kansas Crossing will feature 625 slot machines, 16 table games, a 123-room hotel, three restaurants and a 600-seat entertainment center. Courtesy illustration

As expected, the state on Thursday awarded the contract to build a southeast Kansas casino to the Kansas Crossing group.

The $70 million project will be built at the intersection of U.S. 400 and U.S. 69, three miles south of Pittsburg. It will feature 625 slot machines, 16 table games, a 123-room hotel, three restaurants and a 600-seat entertainment center.

The Kansas Crossing team – which includes Wichita developer George Laham – said it would break ground Friday and have the casino up within 12 months. It is expected to employ about 250 people.

“We are grateful for approval today,” Bruce Christensen of Topeka, the project’s lead investor and developer, said in a statement. “We’re mobilizing construction equipment now and will begin site preparation tomorrow.

“We’re ready to deliver this outstanding project to the region and are committed to opening as soon as possible,” he said.

The casino is the last of the four state-owned but privately operated casinos in Kansas approved under a 2007 law. The others are the Kansas Star Casino & Resort in Mulvane, Hollywood Casino & Resort in Kansas City, and Boot Hill Casino & Resort in Dodge City. The 2007 law decreed that the casino be based in Crawford County or Cherokee County.

The state extracts 22 percent of revenue from the casinos; county and city governments get another 3 percent, and gambling addiction programs receive another 2 percent.

Most of the members of the Kansas Crossing team were involved in the winning Kansas Star and Boot Hill casino bids, and the operations executives have a long experience.

The process also attracted the Castle Rock Casino Resort proposal from a group of Wichita businessmen, led by Brandon and Rodney Steven; and the Camptown Casino from the organization of Wichita native and casino billionaire Phil Ruffin.

The approval by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission on Thursday was close to a foregone conclusion following the decision last week by the Kansas Lottery Gaming Facilities Review Board to recommend Kansas Crossing ahead of the other two applicants. The board had hired its own consultants to dig into the claims of each of the three groups, and a majority of the board members said they wanted an operator that they felt comfortable would deliver on its promises.

On Thursday, the commission confirmed the board’s earlier decision by approving Kansas Crossing 3-0, with an abstention by board member and Wichita attorney David Moses. Moses didn’t return a message for comment.

Carrie Tedore, spokeswoman for the Kansas Crossing team, said Thursday that they felt confident going into the meeting.

“It was a very well-run process, with some of the best consultants in the industry,” she said. “They listened to public comment, did their due diligence and made the best call. We’re very grateful.”

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

Kansas Crossing Casino

Location: Intersection of U.S. 400 and U.S. 69

Total cost: $70 million

Design and construction only: $37 million

Games: 625 slots, 16 table games

Amenities: 123-room hotel, three restaurants, 600-seat events center

Taxes going to local and state governments: about $10 million a year

Estimated revenue from out of state: 60 percent

Construction jobs: about 400

Permanent jobs: about 250

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