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Gamers put Kansas on casino map

Oct 2, 2007 2:44 AM

A handful of the country’s premier casino operators have submitted proposals to build resorts in Kansas, which earlier this year approved up to four state-owned casinos.

Among the high-profile companies submitting bids are Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, Pinnacle Entertainment, and a partnership formed between Olympia Gaming and the Mohegan Sun Tribal Gaming Authority.

Under legislation approved in April, gambling would be expanded beyond Kansas’s racetracks and tribal casinos by allowing four state-owned casinos complexes, if voters in targeted counties approve the facilities.

But the statute must first survive a judicial review that would ensure the gambling legislation adheres to a Kansas constitutional amendment allowing a state-owned and operated lottery.

If it does, Kansas would be the first state to actually own casinos. The judicial process could take up to a year.

So far, five would-be casino operators have shown optimism that casinos will be approved.

Las Vegas Sands, which operates the Venetian in Las Vegas and other casino resorts, announced last week it would seek a Kansas gaming license, and outlined plans for a casino resort in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

"With more than 50 million square feet of development underway worldwide, our company is uniquely qualified to take on the important challenge of expanding Wyandotte County’s already burgeoning tourism infrastructure," Bill Weidner, president of Las Vegas Sands, said in a statement. "Whether it is The Venetian in Las Vegas or any of our other developments, we have clearly demonstrated that our ability to conceive, build, and operate world-class destination resorts is incomparable on an international level.

Through our ability to fund large-scale projects and our massive network and expertise in the areas of hotel, entertainment, meetings and conventions, shopping, dining and gaming we are confident our proposal will stimulate increased tourism and become the type of landmark development that will make the entire Sunflower State proud."

Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment has also sets its sights on building a new gaming entertainment complex to be located at one of two potential sites it controls in Kansas City, Kansas.

The first site for Pinnacle’s proposed gaming project is located on 60 acres at the southeast corner of Interstate 435 and Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, immediately adjacent to the planned Schlitterbahn water park. The second potential location, located two miles to the north, is an approximately 50-acre parcel at the northeast corner of the future interchange at Interstate 435 and Donahoo Road.

Pinnacle’s proposed entertainment resort features a 100,000-square-foot casino, as well as a 500-guestroom hotel consisting of 200 luxury guestrooms and 300 upscale guestrooms. An array of restaurants and lounges ranging from gourmet to casual dining will enhance the experience, along with a mix of retail shops. A center-island performance stage and nightclub will bring color and excitement to the atmosphere. A full-service spa and salon will offer guests and locals a relaxing escape.

The gaming complex anchors a 100,000-square-foot convention center, which includes a 50,000-square-foot venue for concerts and live events. The convention center will draw conventions, meetings and exhibitions from throughout the region and the country, helping to define Wyandotte County as a high-profile regional destination.

At the Schlitterbahn site, the Pinnacle casino and entertainment complex would combine with the neighboring water park to create a regional tourist destination. The Pinnacle and Schlitterbahn developments will offer a total of 2,300 hotel rooms and more than 750,000 square feet of retail space, providing visitors a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience. The proposal also calls for the future expansion of Pinnacle’s convention center at the Schlitterbahn location to 200,000 square feet.

"Our Kansas City project will introduce a new level of gaming entertainment to the Kansas City metropolitan area," said Daniel R. Lee, Pinnacle Entertainment’s chairman and CEO. "This represents a unique opportunity to enhance the substantial destination development that already exists in Kansas City, Kansas. Pinnacle has the expertise, vision and financial strength to create a highly successful gaming destination development."

Mohegans share the legend

The owner and operator of the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, in concert with Olympia Gaming and other partners, have proposed the development of a gaming facility and destination resort named Legends Sun to be located in Wyandotte County, Kansas.

The proposed Legends Sun would feature a wide array of attractions and amenities that include a Mohegan Sun-style casino, a luxury hotel, a convention and conference facility and lifestyle retail center. Upon completion of the project, RED Development, LLC, a premier developer of retail lifestyle centers and destination developments, will manage the retail operations and the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority will manage the casino and other casino related operations.

"We are delighted to participate in the Unified Government’s selection process to bring a world class gaming facility to the residents of metropolitan Kansas City, Kansas,’’ said Jeff Hartmann, Chief Operating Officer of the Authority.

Other groups submitting bids include:

”¡ A limited partnership formed by the Kickapoo, Sac and Fox tribes, which have operated tribal casinos in Kansas since the late 1990s;

”¡ Kansas Speedway, a subsidiary of International Speedway, in partnership with the Cordish Co., which is currently developing Kansas City’s downtown Power & Light entertainment district.