- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a challenge to a new state-owned casino in southeast Kansas, ruling that a state board made the correct decision when it chose a smaller casino project for the region.

The Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board in 2015 chose a $70 million complex near Pittsburg called Kansas Crossing over two other, more expensive, casino proposals. Two Wichita entrepreneurs, Brandon and Rodney Steven, who proposed a larger casino called Castle Rock in Cherokee County, objected and filed a lawsuit along with Cherokee County commissioners.

They appealed to the state Supreme Court after a Shawnee County judge dismissed the lawsuit. Attorneys for Castle Rock argued the gaming board didn’t follow state law when it chose Kansas Crossing or explain why it determined that Castle Rock’s proposal was not economically feasible.

Justice Caleb Stegall, writing for a unanimous court on Friday, said the board chose correctly when it approved the Kansas Crossing proposal, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (https://bit.ly/2pdIx7Z ).

“In light of the record as a whole, the Board could reasonably conclude that Castle Rock - though bigger - posed an unacceptable risk,” Stegall wrote. “Certainly, a reasonable person could conclude that a smaller but more sustainable casino could better serve the interests of Kansans.”

The case involved the awarding of a new casino in the state’s southeast zone, which is the last of four state-owned casinos approved by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.

Kansas Crossing, which offers 625 slot machines, 16 gaming tables, a 123-room Hampton Inn hotel and an entertainment complex, opened in March. It had been scheduled to open in June of 2016 but was delayed by the lawsuits.

The Castle Rock’s proposal was nearly twice the size, proposing a $145 million casino with 1,400 slot machines, 35 table games and a 16-table poker room.

In April 2016, Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks rejected Cherokee County’s argument that the state acted “arbitrarily, capriciously and otherwise unreasonably when they selected Kansas Crossing over Castle Rock.”

The other state-owned casinos are in Dodge City, south of Wichita and in Kansas City, Kansas. The state receives at least 22 percent of the profits from the casinos.

Attorneys for Castle Rock and a spokeswoman for Kansas Crossing did not immediately return calls Friday from The Associated Press.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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