Gaming asked, answered – Capital Journal

Gaming asked, answered
With legislation’s approval, many questions remain for Kansans
By James Carlson
The Capital-Journal
Published Monday, April 02, 2007

The bill expanding gambling in Kansas, which is on its way to the governor’s desk, is 78 pages that read like the small print in a life insurance policy.

Some of the answers to your questions may be answered in those pages (if you could find them), but others aren’t, and the process forward is complicated, even according to the experts.

“It’s a little nebulous, for sure,” said Pete Coker, assistant attorney general. “It’s a complex bill.”

So here, we have provided some answers about the specifics of the bill and about what happens now.

When does the bill become law?

The reviser of statutes has 10 days to print and deliver it to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius then has 10 more days to sign it, which she said she will do. It will take effect upon publication in the register a few weeks later.

What happens then?

The Kansas Lottery Commission, within 30 days, has to publish the procedures for the bidding process. Those guidelines will include the date by which bids must be received.

Developers will then submit their bids, which must include a $25 million application fee and at least a $225 million investment for a destination casino in the three gaming zones in the northeast, southeast and south-central parts of the state. There is a $5.5 million application fee and minimum $50 million investment for a destination casino in the southwest gaming zone.

The commission, within 90 days after the deadline for submitting bids, will choose one or more applicants to send to a casino review board made up of appointments from the governor, House speaker and Senate president.

That panel then will choose the best applicant.

Will the public have a chance to comment on the proposals?

Yes. The review board will hold public hearings and take expert testimony on each proposal to select the winning contract.

So when will we see casinos up and running?

It will be at least 2010 before you can drop your dollar at a blackjack table, according to Chuck Brooke, with International Game Technology in Nevada. The counties have to approve a referendum to allow the facilities before anything can move forward with the bidding process. Then construction and wiring of the casinos will follow.

“It never seems to go as fast as everyone thinks,” Brooke said.

What about slot machines at the racetracks?

Some lawmakers have said slots could be running by the end of the summer, but Brooke said a more realistic timeline is about a year from now.

What does “destination” casino mean?

Restaurants, hotels and other recreational venues are all part of the “destination” package included in the minimum $225 million investment.

Why does the casino in Ford County require a smaller investment?

Ford County, unlike the other three gaming zones, isn’t near a casino in a neighboring state or near any major population centers, said Dennis Hodgins, principal analyst for Kansas Legislative Research.

“Why build a giant facility if you don’t have the population base to patronize it?” Hodgins asked.

How would a court battle over the constitutionality of the law affect the timeline?

The Kansas Constitution requires any lottery or casino to be state-owned. There is some disagreement over whether contracting out casino management will pass constitutional muster.

One group expected to file suit is the Prairie Band Potawatomi, which operates a casino north of Topeka. According to Ed Van Petten, executive director of the Kansas Lottery, the bidding process would continue to move forward in the face of a lawsuit.

He said there is always a possibility, however, that a judge could order an injunction halting construction or forward movement on the casinos until the court proceedings were complete.

“Who knows how long that could take,” Van Petten said.

James Carlson can be reached at (785) 233-7470 or