The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, Kansas Gaming Facility Review Board and members of both groups, along with the Kansas Lottery and its executive director have all been named in a lawsuit filed by the Castle Rock Casino on July 31 in Shawnee County.
Attorneys for the developers want to have a decision overturned that awarded a contract for the construction of a state-owned casino to a competing group in southeast Kansas. The job of regulating state-owned casinos is that of the gaming commission who approved the review boards June decision which led to their determination in early July.
According to backers of the $147 million project, their proposal would have created more jobs and revenue than the two other project proposals. They contend that awarding the contract to the smaller approximately $72 million Kansas Crossing Casino is not in accordance with the state law which requires that a determination be based on maximum revenue and tourism in keeping with the best interests of the state. They say their much larger proposal would satisfy those requirements over that of the competition’s offering. Attorney for the company, Russell Jones, said, “The Castle Rock proposal maximized revenues, tourism, employment and every other metric.” “They didn’t pick it. We think they violated the law by doing what they did.”
The smallest of the three offerings, the Kansas Crossing Casino, will be in close proximity of highways 69 and 400 in Pittsburg.
It’s estimated that the Castle Rock would draw a million plus visitors a year, offer 35 table games, a 16-table poker room, and 1,400 slot machines, versus the Kansas Crossing’s 500,00 annual visitors, 625 slot machines, and 16 poker tables, according to Castle Rock developers.
Proper procedures were used by the review board to make the decision, according to enforcement agent and spokesman for the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, Fred Waller, saying “We used the same procedure as we used in the first (casino) selection.” “It’s a different board but the same process. So we’re satisfied.” He added, if the decision is overturned and a ruiling in favor of Castle Rock is made, the entire process would be repeated based on the specifics of the judge’s ruling.
Factoring into the decision were concerns over revenue projections and Castle Rock’s ability to repay a potential $95 million debt. In addition, Kansas Crossing’s main investors were involved with two other state owned casinos, and a smaller venue would be more in keeping with the area market, according to review board members. Attorneys for Castle Rock have requested to have a lawsuit filed by the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners combined with theirs. The lawsuit isn’t expected to go to trial until 2016. A judge recently ruled that Kansas Crossing could continue with development while the Cherokee County lawsuit proceeds, denying a request for an injunction to stop construction.
A 2007 Kansas law allows for four non tribal casinos, and the Kansas Crossing casino will be the fourth.