Kansas casino deals fall apart

Dec 9, 2008 4:03 PM
Staff & Wire Reports |

Major casino operators Harrah’s, Penn National Gaming and Hard Rock Hotels seem to agree: it isn’t Kansas any more.

Those companies have withdrawn their deals to build casinos in Kansas, citing the rocky economy. Another factor, though unstated, was the recent vote to lift the $500 loss limit for Missouri casinos.

The most recent deal to fall apart was plans for a $705 million hotel, a joint venture of International Speedway Corp and the Cordish Co., who cited "an unprecedented crisis and disruption in the global financial and economic markets" in pulling out.

The group asked the state to refund $25 million in fees paid after the developers won the right to develop and operate the state-owned casino and entertainment complex in Wyandotte County, Kansas, last summer.

The 1.5 million square-foot Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was to have included a 300-room luxury hotel, a casino with 3,000 slot machines and 140 gaming tables, and a 275,000-square-foot retail, dining and entertainment facility.

The setback for the project, which was expected to generate more than $200 million in annual revenues, comes as Kansas is facing a budget shortfall pegged at more than $1 billion by June 2010.

"Nearly every industry across our nation is being impacted by the economic downturn and unfortunately Kansas is seeing the effects as well," Sebelius said in a statement.

Last month, a similar casino development planned elsewhere in Kansas was withdrawn by Penn National Gaming, a partnership that included Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.