Kansas officials start search over for gaming companies

Jan 6, 2009 5:02 PM
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier |

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the motto adopted by Kansas officials in their efforts to find gaming companies that will build three major casinos.

In their first efforts, after the legislature passed a law authorizing the contracting of gaming companies to build and operate four casinos that would be owned by the state, the Kansas Lottery failed to come up with one major operator.

Actually, they had several major companies that had originally bid for the contracts. Companies such as Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., Penn National Gaming Inc., (PENN), Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) and MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM) all showed initial interest in the licenses.

But with the tightening for the credit markets and the slowing economy they each backed out of the running.

Penn National had made two bids: one for Cherokee County where a small casino might struggle to make a profit, and one for Sumner County, the likely king of the state’s gaming properties. The lottery officials rejected the Sumner County bid in favor of Harrah’s. Penn National then withdrew its bid for Cherokee County and Harrah’s backed away from the Sumner County proposal because of lack of funding.

Still hopeful of finding casino developers, the state lottery officials have re-opened the bidding with a deadline in southeast Kansas of Jan. 21 and one of April 1 for Wyandotte County.