Governor considering casino vote delay

Gov. Mark Parkinson said Wednesday that he probably will decide by early next week whether to grant a 60-day extension to the state's casino review board to vote on Sumner County's casino proposal.

First, he needs to find out whether he has the authority to make a decision, he said during a visit to Wichita.

John Frieden, a lawyer for the developers of Chisholm Creek Casino Resort, has said that the state's expanded gambling law doesn't give the governor discretion to do anything but grant the delay.

Parkinson said his counsel has to determine whether that's true.

He said he was surprised the board granted Chisholm Creek's request for a delay at a board hearing on Tuesday.

"They've been granted an extension before, and do I think it's time to bring this issue to a head," he said.

The review board faces an April 19 deadline to vote on the Chisholm Creek contract. The board met Tuesday in Topeka to review the contract and take the vote, but developers asked it to wait. They threatened to walk away from the project if the board voted that day to approve it.

Chisholm Creek is the only bidder in Sumner County.

Developers cited concerns that state lawmakers might try to change legislation to give Wichita Greyhound Park another chance to have slot machines, as well as confusion over zoning issues at the casino's site near the Mulvane turnpike exit.

Parkinson said that if he finds out he has authority to make a decision about an extension, he would hold meetings to determine the reasons for the request.

"But I really think we need to bring the Sumner County issue to a head," he said.