As is often the case after competing entities invest millions of dollars in casino proposals, and all but one have no hope of recouping their gamble, Kansas Crossing Casino – who won the bid for a state-owned casino license in June, is seeing actions leading to its win face lawsuits. Developers for Castle Rock Casino had hoped to win the bid and invest $147 million to open their casino in Cherokee County.
The county tried to get an injunction stopping the casino’s construction, that effort was rebuffed by a judge in early August. Cherokee County as well as Castle Rock named the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission, Kansas Gaming Facility Review Board and members of both groups, as well as the Kansas Lottery and its executive director in a lawsuit. Castle Rock says the decision was “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”
Cherokee County Commissioners want the entire award process to start over.
Now commissioners for Cherokee County have signed an agreement with Penfield’s Business Centers, owners of the location where Castle Rock would have been built. The agreement will see Penfield managing partner Gary Hall pay the county’s legal fees, estimated to be around $150,000 so far. If a casino is built in Cherokee County commissioners will have two years to repay the legal fees. If Kansas Crossing prevails and no casino comes to Cherokee, the county won’t have to repay the funds.
Hall would have sold 285 acres to the Castle Rock developers if their bid was successful. He already sold a Castle Rock related company 80 acres at the site. He says he is footing the bill because he believes a casino would be good for the community.
The Joblin Globe reports that Kansas Crossing spokesperson, Carrie Tedore questions why a private company would be paying legal bills for the county.
“In my opinion, it simply shows the county commissioners are continuing a meritless action for the benefit of a couple of its wealthier citizens and their last-ditch efforts to sell outrageously priced land,” Tedore said in a written statement. “While Gary Hall funds a lawsuit he and others have a direct interest in, the rest of Cherokee County loses $1,000 per day in lost tax revenues, good paying job opportunities and potential economic development. Unfortunately it is the people of Cherokee County that are getting hurt.”
Kansas Crossing halted development of their property of their own accord because of the pending litigation. They have filed an extension to postpone their commencement date which the Lottery Commission has accepted. The due date to start business has been moved from July 2016 to October. Although the casino won a small legal victory last week in regard to “discovery” procedures, they say that construction at the site will remain on hold until at least the end of November when they deliver a report to the Kansas Lottery on the status of the lawsuit. By then they will decide whether or not to seek another 90 day extension.
The casino recently sent out flyers to all Cherokee County residents urging them to ask the commission to drop its actions. The flyers read in part, “Please tell Cherokee County commissioners that they are costing residents of Cherokee County much more than court costs and lawyers’ fees.”