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Ruffin takes on Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission

Oct 21, 2008 5:07 PM

by Ray Poirier | Let the lawmakers decide whether they want 40% of something or 100% of nothing was the argument used by Phil Ruffin before the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission last week.

The meeting was held so that the commissioners could decide whether to revoke the operating licenses of three dog tracks, the Wichita Greyhound Park and the Camptown Greyhound Park, owned by Ruffin, and the Woodlands tracks owned by Howard Grace.

The commission set Nov. 7 as the date for a hearing on Ruffin’s appeal.

His argument was simple enough. Under the law that approved slot machines for the dog tracks, the state received 40% ofthe revenues; the county, 20% and the tracks 40%.

That is not enough to make the tracks viable as slot machine operators, said Ruffin. He has had plenty of experience with his recently-imploded New Frontier Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas.

To get the slot machines, the tracks have to agree to operate live racing on at least 150 days a year.

Greyhound wagering revenues have declined to such a degree, say the track operators, that it would not be profitable to have live racing without slot machines. And, in order to make the slots profitable, the state must reduce their end of the takeout to just 22%, the same amount that the casinos will pay, leaving 58% for the tracks.

Problem is the legislature won’t be able to revisit the gambling law until the beginning of the new year. That’s why Ruffin asked the commission to postpone any action on the greyhound licenses until the lawmakers have had a chance to review the law.