Three proposed casinos in Sumner County - Thursday 16th of April 2009

Three developers have proposed casinos in Sumner County, hoping to win approval from a state selection committee to build a large facility in southcentral Kansas.

Minneapolis-based Lakes Entertainment Inc. was the last to propose a casino before the 5 p.m. deadline Wednesday for applications.

Lakes Entertainment, which has developed and managed Indian casinos across the country, has proposed building a casino at two alternative sites — one near Wellington and one in the city of Mulvane, according the Kansas Lottery Commission, which released basic information about the proposal.

A representative from Lakes Entertainment didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

The company joins Foxwoods Development Co. and Topeka-based Equity Ventures in vying for a casino under the state’s expanded gambling law. Wednesday’s deadline sets in motion a complex review process by the state to select a single developer to move forward.

This is the second round of bidding.

The first ended after the state selected Equity Ventures and its partner, Harrah’s Entertainment, to build a $500 million-plus facility near Mulvane on the Kansas Turnpike. But Harrah’s eventually pulled out, citing the bad economy.

Equity Ventures is back this time, proposing a casino at alternative sites along the Kansas Turnpike near Mulvane and in the city of Mulvane itself. The company is partnering with a pair of former Mandalay Resort Group executives.

Foxwoods also is bidding for the second time. The group has proposed a $250 million facility near the Mulvane exit on the Turnpike.

The Kansas Lottery Commission has until June 30 to review applications and negotiate contracts with the developers. A special selection committee has another 60 days to select a winning developer.

A key point in the process will occur as developers seek endorsements from local governing bodies, which are required.

Sites along the Turnpike near Mulvane have been contested in court. Critics have said the city of Mulvane improperly annexed that area in order to offer its endorsement to the casino developers.

The Sumner County Commission, meanwhile, has shown a preference for casinos near Wellington, the county seat.

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