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Sumner County concerned about tribal casino

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Concerns about a proposed tribal casino in Park City may scuttle plans for a Sumner County casino.

After two months of contract negotiations with the Kansas Lottery, developers of the Chisholm Creek Casino Resort near Mulvane remain concerned about possible competition from the tribal casino, the lottery’s executive director, Ed Van Petten, said Feb. 4.

“We have agreed to a few safeguards in that regard, but I don’t know we’re going to get to the point where they’re completely comfortable going ahead or not,” he said.

Negotiations could be done by the middle or end of next week. “But I do not know if that means we’re going to be done with a contract, or without,” Van Petten said.

If developers don’t reach a contract agreement with the state, they can’t build the casino. The lottery then would reopen bidding in the south-central gaming zone, Van Petten said. That could mean a delay of at least 18 months.

Chisholm Creek partners include Och-Ziff Real Estate of New York, which would own 50 percent of the project; Lakes Entertainment of Minnesota, with 17 percent ownership; and Clairvest Group of Canada with 33 percent.

Negotiations have been underway since early December, when developers asked for more time just as the state’s gaming board was to vote on a contract.

“It’s been long enough,” Van Petten said.

Chisholm Creek has planned a $225 million casino at the Mulvane exit off the Kansas Turnpike. It has said it would open a $125 million first phase by September 2011. That phase would feature 1,300 slot machines and 30 gaming tables, a buffet, restaurant, multi-function entertainment venue and an EMS facility. A third party was to open a hotel within six months of the casino opening.

The original contract had come up for a vote by the Lottery Gaming Facilities Review Board on Dec. 1. Just before the vote, Chisholm Creek asked that the board send it back to the lottery, which would own the casino, for more negotiations. It cited plans by the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma to build a casino in Park City as the main reason.

Financial consultants hired by the state had said a tribal casino in Park City would seriously affect Sumner County’s casino. One consultant estimated it would lower the revenue at Chisholm Creek by 21.5 percent.

A tribal casino wouldn’t pay money to the state. A Sumner County casino would be required by state law to pay 22 percent of its gambling revenue to the state, and 5 percent to local governments and a problem gambling fund.

The Wyandotte Nation’s plans are no closer to reality than they were in December. The nation, which has owned 10.5 acres near Park City since 1992, has applied to the Department of the Interior to have the land put in trust for gaming purposes. The application was filed in 1996 and updated in 2006.

A representative of the Wyandotte said the nation is still waiting to hear from the Interior Department about its application.

But Doug Spangler, the tribe’s director of governmental affairs, also said, “I think it’s imminent. All the requirements have been fulfilled.”

Kansas Attorney General Steven Six has objected to the tribal proposal, and so has U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard.

If the application is approved, the tribe would be eligible to open a Class II, or bingo-style, casino. It would have to negotiate a compact with the state to conduct Class III, or Las Vegas-style, gaming, which is the type of gambling that would take place at Chisholm Creek.

Van Petten said other small matters remain to be resolved in negotiations with Chisholm Creek, but the competition with the tribal proposal is the main issue.

Chisholm Creek has not expressed objections to two bills in the state Legislature that would encourage track owners to put slot machines at their tracks by raising the amount of revenue they could keep from the machines.

The bills could mean slots for Wichita Greyhound Park, pending a new vote in Sedgwick County.

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