RV Park in Harrah's Plans for Kansas Complex
Watch today's Featured Video to see KAKE-TV's coverage of the following story from Kansas.
For the third time, the county commission in Sumner County, Kan., is considering proposals from three casino developers, each hoping to build a destination complex near either Mulvane or Wellington.
In many ways, it's the same story already told twice before, KAKE-TV, Wichita, reported.
Sumner County has been trying to build a state-owned casino since a 2007 law approved the development. Attempts in 2008 and 2009 both failed when the developers pulled out amid economic concerns and time restraints.
Many in Sumner County are hoping this third time is the charm.
Of the three developers, only Harrah's has bid previously. Harrah's was part of a consortium of developers to win the state's approval in 2008, only to pull out as the economy tanked.
Two years later, the company is trying again – this time, alone.
"You could argue we're back for a second time because we see the opportunity here," said Harrah's vice president Trevor Busche. "We wouldn't be back if we didn't intend to follow through."
Harrah's proposal includes a casino at one of two sites, both being built near Mulvane on the east side of I-35.
Harrah's plans would include a 100-room hotel, 15,000 square feet of conference space, 1,750 slot machines, 50 table games, and a "World Series of Poker" room. There are also plans for an RV park, a water park, spa, retail space and a tennis facility.
Harrah's says it beats the competition in terms of experience and recognition. The company estimates there are more than 2.5-million people within a three hour drive of Mulvane who have previously visited — or are familiar with — Harrah's venues.
Peninsula Gaming officials say they can do even better. The Iowa-based company also proposes a casino at the turnpike's Mulvane exit.
The company prides itself on its Midwestern roots, with a brochure that promises "a partnership sharing the values and pride of the Heartland."
What Peninsula Gaming may lack in name recognition, developers say they can make up for in benefit to the community. CEO Brent Stevens told Sumner County leaders he could have the first phase of a casino open and operating by late 2011. But the time the project was complete, he said it would generate enough annual revenue to give a $1,000 college scholarship to every graduating Sumner County senior.
All other Sumner County students would receive $100 to be used towards school supplies.
"Education is key to the future of us all," Stevens told KAKE News after his presentation Tuesday morning. "We take that very seriously."
Peninsula's plans call for 2000 slot machines, 42 table games, a 10 table poker room, restaurants, and up to 300 hotel rooms by the completion of the full project.
Most unique, Stevens said, were plans for a large equestrian event center, capable of handling full-scale rodeos and horse shows. Stevens said it would be the largest in the area.
Only one proposal calls for a casino to be built at the Wellington exit in central Sumner County.
Oklahoma's Global Gaming Solutions proposes a 260,000 square foot casino with 1,300 slots and electronic games, 40 Blackjack tables, 20 poker tables, an 80 room hotel and 1,400 seat live theater.
The company, which owns several Oklahoma casinos, says it knows the I-35 corridor better than any other applicant. Global Gaming CEO John Elliott said there was no evidence to support the idea a casino built in Wellington wouldn't generate as much revenue as a casino near Mulvane.
Global Gaming officials said their community involvement wouldn't end with the construction of the casino. Plans call for an estimated $3 million in improvements to the city's golf course, including construction of a new club house. There is also a proposal for a race track capable of attracting Nascar and other events.
All three developers said they could compete with a potential casino in Park City, but said it was too early to know what the full impact of such a development would be on future business.
Sumner County commissioners will hear public comment on the proposals at their meeting next Tuesday. Afterward, they'll vote on which – if any – of the plans to endorse.
Plans endorsed by the county then head to the state for review by the Lottery Commission, which will give final approval to one plan.