State

Judge denies Cherokee County’s temporary injunction on casino

Cherokee County has lost a bid for a temporary injunction that would have stopped construction of a new state-owned casino in southeast Kansas.

District Court Judge Larry Hendricks rejected the county’s request, ruling the board that chose a casino in Crawford County did so after holding several public hearings and with the advice of independent experts.

“It is clear the selection process was a thorough process,” Hendricks wrote.

Cherokee County sued last month after the state awarded a contract to Kansas Crossing Hotel & Casino, to be built south of Pittsburg. Cherokee County supported a competing proposal that would have built a casino in its county.

The lawsuit named the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board, the Kansas Lottery and its executive director and the group proposing Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel.

Bruce Christenson, the lead investor for Kansas Crossing, said he appreciated the judge’s decision. The investment group also includes Wichita developer George Laham.

“I hope the parties can all move forward together now, knowing that Kansas Crossing will have significant positive impact throughout the region,” said Christenson, of Houston.

Cherokee County commissioners still want to block the Crawford County casino and will evaluate “where we go from here,” chairman Richard Hilderbrand said.

Dennis McKinney, chairman of the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, said Hendricks agreed with the racing commission’s finding that the review board’s decision was not arbitrary or capricious.

The $70 million Kansas Crossing casino was the least expensive of three proposals submitted to the state. Its casino and 120-room hotel are expected to open next summer.

The proposed $145 million casino in Cherokee County, Castle Rock Casino Resort, was the largest project, with 1,400 slot machines, 35 table games and a 16-table poker room. The project was headed by Brandon and Rodney Steven of Wichita.

The southeast Kansas casino is the last of four nontribal casinos allowed under a 2007 Kansas law, joining casinos in Dodge City, south of Wichita and in Kansas City. The Kansas Lottery owns the casinos and the state receives at least 22 percent of the gambling profits.

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