After a 2 1/2-month delay, Sumner County’s casino gained new momentum Tuesday.
The Kansas Lottery reached a verbal agreement with Chisholm Creek Casino Resort developers on a new contract to build the facility.
“We’re there, I think,” said Ed Van Petten, the lottery’s executive director, who two weeks ago had questioned whether a deal could be struck.
The new contract includes amendments to build a hotel at the same time as the casino and to provide financial safeguards for the developers in case a competing tribal casino is built in Park City, Van Petten said.
The lottery sent documents to the developers to review, and a contract should be finalized this morning, said John Frieden, a Topeka attorney who represents Chisholm Creek.
Frieden declined to comment on the contract until it is finalized. “It’s possible some parts of it may be changed,” he said late Tuesday.
The lottery commission is scheduled to consider the new contract Wednesday during its regular monthly meeting.
If the commission approves, the contract will be sent to the state casino review board for a vote.
Negotiations have been under way since early December, when Chisholm Creek, which would build the casino at the Mulvane exit off the Kansas Turnpike, asked the board to postpone its vote and have the contract returned to the lottery for more negotiations. It cited potential competition from a Park City casino proposed by the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma.
The new contract allows developers to delay making investments in some parts of the infrastructure, primarily its ancillary retail space, if the Wyandotte casino is built, Van Petten said.
“It doesn’t say it will delay it, it just allows them that flexibility,” he said.
Developers would have 12 years over the 15 years of the contract to make the total state-mandated $225 million minimum investment in the project, Van Petten said. The state would have three years to enforce the contract if developers default.
Van Petten said he understood the developers’ concerns about a Park City casino. A tribal casino faces little regulation and no tax rate. Chisholm Creek would be owned and regulated by the state and pay 27 percent in taxes to state and local governing bodies.
One state consultant said a tribal casino in Park City would cut gaming revenue at a Mulvane casino by 21.5 percent.
But the tribe’s efforts to gain a casino have been bogged down in governmental red tape for years. Its application to have its Park City land placed in trust for gambling purposes still is pending in the U.S. Department of the Interior.
In the original contract, Chisholm Creek had planned a $125 million first-phase development near Mulvane that included a casino with 1,300 slot machines, 30 gaming tables, a buffet, cafe, and a 125-seat entertainment venue.
Chisholm Creek also had reached an agreement to have a third party, Double Down Development of Topeka, build a hotel of at least 100 rooms at the site, which would open within six months of the casino. But that wasn’t included in the original contract.
The new contract incorporates the hotel and calls for it to be built at the same time as the casino, Van Petten said.
Sumner County Commissioners recently denied a request by developers to have two plats of land at the site re-zoned for traffic and drainage issues, but that didn’t affect contract negotiations with the state, Van Petten said.
“We were informed of that, however we’re not involved in any of that. Obviously they’ll have to get final approval, and I know they’re working on that,” he said.
Van Petten said it could be three or four months before the new contract is finally approved.
The lottery hasn’t determined whether the state’s expanded gambling law provides deadlines for the review board to act and for the racing and gaming commission to finish background checks once a contract has been sent back to the lottery for re-negotiation.
“But everyone concerned wants something done as fast as possible,” Van Petten said.