(TOPEKA, Kan.) — It's official, the Kansas Star Casino can be built in Sumner County. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission approved the background checks for Peninsula Gaming Friday morning. It was the final step needed before developers can proceed with construction.
Sumner County has never made it this far in the process. Several years ago, Harrah's pulled out before receiving final approval from the Racing and Gaming Commission. The decision means the $25 million privilege fee paid by Peninsula Gaming is non-refundable. The governor already counted on that money in his budget proposal released Thursday.
Issues the Racing and Gaming Commission had to consider in the background checks were misdemeanor charges CEO Brent Stevens and his Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Swain face in Iowa. The two were charged for making illegal campaign contributions to the governor's race there. Stevens denies any wrong doing and says things will be cleared up in court. However, if the misdemeanor charge becomes a legal issue with the Kansas Lottery, Stevens and Swain will step aside. He says the misdemeanor will not impact the future of the Kanasas Star. He says there are other people in place that can take over and continue the project if necessary
The Kansas Star casino is expected to spend $260 million over the next five years.Ground breaking on the casino should happen in the first quarter of this year. The contract calls for an interim casino to be open by early 2012. The interim casino will eventually be turned into the event center. In January 2013, the permanent casino will open along with 150 hotel rooms. By 2015, another 150 hotel rooms along with additional gaming amenities and an equestrian event center will open.
The Kansas Star casino will be built at the Mulvane exit of the turnpike. The Lottery Review Board chose the Kansas Star over the Winspirit Casino in Wellington.