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State seeks details on casino

The proposed Chisholm Creek Casino Resort, done in prairie-style architecture, would feature 1,300 to 1,500 slot machines and 30 table games.
The proposed Chisholm Creek Casino Resort, done in prairie-style architecture, would feature 1,300 to 1,500 slot machines and 30 table games. Courtesy illustration

The state's casino review board has resumed its dogged pursuit of information about Sumner County's casino proposal.

The seven-member board held a teleconference Wednesday to review the Chisholm Creek Casino Resort project.

Board chairman Matt All said it will vote on the project in several weeks, but no date has been set.

The board has until April 19 to make a decision, although it could request a 60-day extension from Gov. Mark Parkinson.

The last time board members met to consider the proposal was Dec. 1, and Chisholm Creek yanked the project away from them by asking to renegotiate its contract with the state.

Board members want more information on zoning issues related to drainage and traffic problems at the planned site.

They also want their financial consultants to revise the revenue forecasts for Chisholm Creek to reflect a complex set of scenarios that spell out what amenities would be added to the project depending on whether, and when, a tribal casino proposed by the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma is built in Park City.

And they wanted to know whether Chisholm Creek will offer the level of amenities and attractiveness that will lure tourists and maximize revenue for the state.

The casino, which would open within 18 months after final approval, would be located at the Mulvane exit off the Kansas Turnpike.

The contract between the Kansas Lottery and Chisholm Creek requires a $125 million first-phase development no smaller than 72,000 square feet, which will include a casino with at least 1,300 slot machines, 40 gaming tables and a restaurant seating at least 200 people.

Depending upon if and when the Park City casino is built, developers would be permitted to phase in additional gaming and amenities.

Chisholm Creek is required to make a minimum investment of $225 million in the project over 12 years.

It also has committed to have a hotel built by Double Down Development of Topeka at the site. The hotel will have at least 100 rooms, including luxury guest suites, a swimming pool, and at least 5,000 square feet of meeting and conference facilities.

Chisholm Creek partners include Och-Ziff Real Estate of New York, Clairvest Group of Canada, and Lakes Entertainment of Minnesota.

Board member Dean Ferrell said he was confused about zoning at site. Sumner County last month denied a zoning request by developers because their plans require all traffic at the casino to exit onto Highway 81.

Patrick Martin, counsel for the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, said he'd try to get a letter from the county by the next meeting explaining where the matter stands.

Jon Bristor, director of planning and zoning for Sumner County, said the developer hasn't filed a new zoning application yet.

"We haven't heard they don't want to apply. The ball's in their court to come back with an application," he said.

There is no time limit to apply, he said. The county would have to notify landowners at least 20 days before a new hearing is held. But the matter could be resolved before the review board meets again, Bristor said.

Review board member Jackie Vietti said she wanted documentation that showed any involvement by Sedgwick County in the project. Sedgwick County is included with Sumner County in the south-central gaming zone that was established by the state's expanded gambling law.

Vietti said, "This isn't just a Sumner County issue. Sedgwick County has got to be part of the solution."

Board member Jack Brier asked how the board can look at revenue projections at Chisholm Creek given the many scenarios involving the potential tribal casino in Park City.

The tribe has said it could have a casino operation by the end of the year. It expects the U.S. Department of the Interior to approve its application to have its Park City land taken into trust for gambling purposes within the month.

Consultants said they couldn't come up with projections covering every possible scenario, but they could at least give an idea of what would happen by examining a streamlined version of the scenarios.

Richard Wells of Wells Gaming Research said previous forecasts about the tribal casino's impact on Chisholm Creek assumed the tribe's casino would have 760 slots. New information that the tribe plans to open a Class II casino with as many 1,000 to 1,200 slot machines initially will change his projections.

"The impact will be greater than we estimated the last time around," Wells said.

All said he wanted other consultants to analyze Chisholm Creek's amenities to determine whether it is as good a casino project as the state can expect under the current market conditions.

In previous votes, the board often has decided which casinos to approve based on "how attractive a facility would be to cause people to travel to spend money there," All said.

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