Phil Ruffin solves one headache, fights another and does lots of business in between

WICHITA — As always, Phil Ruffin has a lot on his plate, and some things are going better than others.

This week, a federal judge threw out an age discrimination lawsuit against Ruffin’s Treasure Island hotel and casino in Las Vegas.

“We wanted to put a first-class spa in,” Ruffin says of his wife’s namesake Oleksandra Spa & Salon. “Oleksandra was very familiar with that business and wanted a bunch of new things put in.”

That included hiring people with the necessary skill sets, he says.

“The ones who didn’t have the skills sued us,” Ruffin says.

He describes it as a typical headache.

“You get those things all the time. You try not to, but you can’t help it sometimes.”

He’s also added a second Starbucks on his property along with the Margarita Bar, both of which are near Treasure Island’s pirate show on the strip.

“Nine thousand people a night look at that,” Ruffin says. He wants to accommodate each of them with a drink.

Ruffin also is working with Cirque Du Soleil to revamp “Mystere,” one of the most popular Vegas shows, which also is at Treasure Island.

The new show debuts Feb. 12.

“It should be an even better show,” Ruffin says.

Back in Wichita, Ruffin is once again working on getting slots at his closed Wichita Greyhound Park.

“We keep trying,” he says.

This is his fifth year after narrowly losing a 2007 vote.

“It’s kind of an economic employment issue this time,” Ruffin says. “It will put more people back to work, which is what we’re looking to do.”

He says it was “really devastating” to lose the hundreds of jobs associated with the track, from employees to kennel owners and others associated with the business.

“Wichita needs jobs,” Ruffin says. “We can give … 400 of them probably right away.”

He says there are high-paying jobs associated with the slots as well, and he’d also add a Gilley’s nightclub at the track.

Ruffin says he’d also hire a lot of construction workers to remodel the track.

“Oh, God, we’ll have to spend a lot of money redoing it.”

Whether he will get to is questionable. Ruffin says not even all of Wichita’s legislators support it.

“Can you believe that?”

Not that that will stop him.

“We never give up.”