- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - The bids are in, so now it’s up to state officials to choose the winner in a contest to build a new casino in southeast Kansas.

Four groups submitted formal applications to the Kansas Lottery Commission by the deadline Friday to open a casino in either Crawford or Cherokee counties, with two bids in each county, The Joplin Globe reported (https://bit.ly/1DwH12b ).

The Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board will have up to 60 days to recommend the winning bid, and the Kansas Racing & Gaming Commission would then complete a background investigation and have 10 days to approve or reject the recommendation, according to Kansas Lottery spokeswoman Sally Lunsford.

In Cherokee County, the Southeast Kansas Casino Partners is proposing a $140 million casino resort on 123 acres along Highway 400. Among other things, the project would include a casino, hotels, equestrian center, a concert venue, a convention hall, restaurants, a lake and retail shops. Killian Entertainment is the primary member of the group, which estimates it would provide 940 permanent jobs.

Wichita’s Castle Rock Casino Resorts announced last month that it wants to build a $145 million Castle Rock Casino Resort in Cherokee County less than a mile north of Interstate 44 and U.S. Highway 400. It would feature a casino, hotel and restaurant, with the possibility of adding an entertainment arena in the future. The company said the project would create more than 1,000 permanent jobs.

One of the proposals in Crawford County would be built at the site of the former Camptown Greyhound Park, which is within Frontenac, north of Pittsburg. The Emerald City Casino Resort was proposed by a partnership of Phil Ruffin, who owns Wichita Greyhound Park and several casinos, and Downstream Casino Resort operated by the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma. It would include a casino, restaurants, a convention and entertainment center and an RV park, with a combined cost of $110 million.

The second proposed project in Crawford County was submitted by investors who have been involved in the development and operation of two of three state-owned casinos already operating in Kansas. The proposed $62 million Kansas Crossing Casino, which would be built south of Pittsburg on land annexed into the city late last year, would bring about 300 jobs to the region. It would include a casino, restaurant, hotel and an event center.

Regional officials are thrilled with the prospect of having a casino in their regions.

B.J. Harris, head of the Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said any casino in Crawford County would help the economy.

“We would support any proposal that would bring a casino here,” he said. “I think it will be up to those developers to put together the best possible plan, and I have faith that the powers that be at the state level will make the decision that’s best for our community.”

In Cherokee County, Galena Mayor Dale Oglesby said his county would “welcome either proposal with open arms.”

“I think it’s an absolutely awesome opportunity for the county, economically speaking, no question about it. It means jobs, it means entertainment venues, restaurants. It would add so much to the county,” he said.


Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com

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