Below is a summary of events related to racing and gaming.
In 1986, the voters of the state of Kansas amended Article 15, Section 3b of the Kansas Constitution, allowing the state to “permit, regulate, license and tax” horse and dog racing and pari-mutuel wagering.
In 1987, the Kansas Legislature passed the Kansas Parimutuel Racing Act to implement the will of the voters. The KPRA created the Kansas Racing Commission to license and regulate pari-mutuel wagering and racing in Kansas.
The first executive director of the KRGC was Jimmy Grenz. He was appointed in 1987, and worked until 1990. The first commissioners were Harry Anthony, Kay Arvin, Bert Cantwell, Phil Martin and Alfred Schroeder. Each of these commissioners was appointed in 1987, but their terms were staggered so they would not all expire at the same time. Through 2009, 25 individuals have served on the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.
In 1989 the Woodlands Racetrack was opened in Kansas City as the first facility to be regulated by the KRGC. At opening, the track featured only a greyhound track. A horse racing track was subsequently added to the facility during its second year of operation. Wichita Greyhound Park opened in Wichita in 1989, becoming the second commercial track regulated by the Commission.
In 1990, Dan Hamer took over as executive director of the agency, a post he held until March of 1991. Following his time as executive director, Dana Nelson, Janet Chubb and Art Neuhedel each served as the executive director.
The only other commercial parimutuel facility to be licensed by the KRGC was Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac, which opened in 1995. That same year, Myron Scafe took over as the executive director of the KRGC, a post he held until 2000.
In November of 1995, Camptown Greyhound Park closed after only six months of operation. That same month, the Woodlands begins to push for slot machines at the track to help generate revenue, as the track was forced to cut both its horse and greyhound racing schedules to cut costs.
However, legislation to amend the Kansas constitution failed in the Senate during the 1996 legislative session. This proposal would have put an initiative on the ballot to amend the state constitution to allow slot machines at the racetrack. Similar bills introduced during the legislative session also fail. Meanwhile, the Woodlands files for bankruptcy protection.
Having seen statewide measures fail, the Kansas City city council introduces a ballot initiative locally in 1996 to allow slot machines at the Woodlands by amending the city’s charter. The initiative passed by an overwhelming majority, but the Kansas Attorney General’s Office argues that the vote was unconstitutional, and threatens to file charges if slot machines are placed at the facility.
More expanded gambling legislation is introduced (and defeated) during the 1997 legislative session. Late in 1997, Phil Ruffin, Sr., a casino operator in Las Vegas, purchases Wichita Greyhound Park in an attempt to save the struggling track.
In late 1998, ownership of the Woodlands transfers to William Grace, who owns the vast majority of the track’s debt.
Following the failure of another expanded gaming bill in 1999, Phil Ruffin purchases the Camptown Greyhound Park and merges its ownership with Wichita Greyhound Park to make the tracks more financially viable. Camptown opens the next year for just over two months before closing again. No racing has been conducted at Camptown since November 13, 2000.
Tracy Diel stepped in as executive director in September of 2000 and served in that position until May 2005.
From 2001 through 2006, new gambling legislation is proposed in the legislature nearly every year. Each year, it fails. In 2005, Stephen Martino was appointed as executive director of the agency.
In 2007, the Kansas Legislature was presented with the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act. This act allowed for the state of Kansas to own and operate a “destination casino resort” in four gaming zones – northeast, southeast, south central and southwest – within the state of Kansas. In addition to allowing for these destination casino resorts, KELA allowed each of the licensed pari-mutuel tracks within the state to contract with the Kansas Lottery to have electronic gaming machines (slot machines) placed at the tracks.
The Kansas Expanded Lottery Act passed through the Kansas legislature, but the legality of the legislation was still at issue. To clear up any further challenges to the constitutionality of the Expanded Lottery Act, the Attorney General’s Office filed a challenge to the act in Shawnee County district court.
In addition to the legal challenges still confronting the KELA, each gaming zone had to hold a vote to approve the casino as well as slot machines at the race track (if applicable). The vote for the casino and slot machines passed in both the northeast and southeast zones. The southwest zone voted in favor of a casino. In the south central zone, however, Sedgwick County voted against both the casino and slot machines at the racetrack. Sumner County voted in favor of the casino.
As a result of the countywide vote denying slot machines, Wichita Greyhound Park closed on October 6, 2007. No racing has been conducted at the facility since this time.
On February 1, 2008, the Shawnee County district court ruled that KELA was constitutional. This decision was immediately appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court for a final legal determination.
On June 27, 2008, the Kansas Supreme Court handed down its decision upholding the constitutionality of the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act. This decision cleared the way for both the destination casinos and the remaining racetracks to move forward under KELA.
However, neither the Woodlands or Camptown Greyhound Park were able to negotiate a contract with the Kansas Lottery to operate slot machines at their facilities. On August 23, 2008, the Woodlands ceased operations. No racing has been conducted at the facility since that time.
Still, KELA allowed for the state to negotiate a fifteen year contract in each of the four gaming zones for a destination casino manager. Thirteen applicants applied during the initial process – six in the northeast zone, four in the south central zone, two in the southwest zone and one in the southeast zone.
In the southeast zone Penn National Gaming was proposing a location in the extreme southeastern corner of Cherokee County, Kansas. This was the only proposal for the southeast zone. On August 22, 2008, the Penn National Gaming application was selected by the Kansas Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board to manage the southeast zone facility. However, before the KRGC could complete the background examination, Penn National withdrew its bid, citing the economic downturn and a change in the competitive landscape caused by the recent opening of the $300 million Downstream Casino in Oklahoma, less than 2 miles from the Penn National site.
In the south central zone Harrah’s, Penn National, MGM Mirage and Marvel Gaming all submitted bids in Sumner County. Harrah’s proposal was for a site just outside Mulvane, while Penn National and Marvel had selected sites just outside Wellington. On August 22, 2008, the Review Board selected Harrah’s as the manager in the south central zone. However, before the KRGC completed the background examination, Harrah’s withdrew its bid, citing the economic downturn.
In the northeast zone Kansas Entertainment, Sands (two separate site bids), Pinnacle, Golden Gaming, and Legends Sun submitted bids to manage a facility in Wyandotte County. Kansas Entertainment was selected as the manager, but once again, prior to having the background completed, Kansas Entertainment withdrew, citing the economic downturn and the resulting uncertainty.
In the southwest zone Dodge City Gaming and Boot Hill submitted bids to manage a facility in Ford County. On September 26, 2008 the Boot Hill casino was selected. The Boot Hill background was approved by the KRGC on December 5, 2008. The Boot Hill Casino and Resort opened to the public in December of 2009.
With the applications in the southeast, south central and northeast zone having been withdrawn, the Kansas Lottery re-opened the bid process in each zone. While there were no bidders in the southeast zone, on April 1, 2009 the Lottery announced that 3 bidders had emerged in the other two zones – Lakes Entertainment, Prairie Sky and Chisholm Creek in the south central zone, and Kansas Entertainment, Penn National and Golden Gaming in the northeast zone. However, prior to Review Board hearings in 2009, both zones were reduced to one applicant each through a series of mergers and withdrawals.
In the northeast zone, the single applicant was Kansas Entertainment, with Penn National having joined the application with the Kansas Speedway in place of the Cordish Company, while Golden Gaming dropped out. In the south central zone the applicant was Chisholm Creek Casino and Resort, with Lakes Entertainment having joined the original Chisholm application while Prairie Sky withdrew its application.
On December 1, 2009, the Review Board determined that the Kansas Entertainment contract was the “best possible contract” and forwarded it to the KRGC. However, the Board could not make the same determination for the Chisholm Creek contract, so that contract was sent back to the Kansas Lottery for renegotiation.
On February 12, 2010 the KRGC approved the license of the Kansas Entertainment project in the northeast zone (Wyandotte County). Kansas Entertainment opened its doors to the public as Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway on February 3, 2012.
On March 3, 2010, the Chisholm Creek Casino and Resort presented contract amendments to the Review Board. However, after a presentation to the Review Board, Chisholm Creek withdrew their bid on April 6, 2010, and the south central gaming zone was again opened for new bids. On July 22, 2010, the Lottery received three applications for a contract in the zone. Peninsula Gaming Partners, LLC proposed a lottery gaming facility in Mulvane; Global Gaming KS LLC proposed a gaming facility near Wellington; and Harrah’s Kansas proposed two sites, one in and one near Mulvane. Harrah’s withdrew their application on September 8th.
On August 25, 2010, the Review Board reconvened, and on October 28, 2010, heard presentations for the two remaining applicants for the south central zone. A Review Board vote was taken on December 15, 2010, at which time the Peninsula Gaming Partners, LLC contract was selected as the best possible contract for the south central gaming zone. Peninsula Gaming opened the Kansas Star Casino to the public on December 26, 2011 in an interim facility and opened its permanent facility one year later. The interim facility was later converted to an arena.
No applications were received for the southeast gaming zone after 2008. In order to improve the possibility of opening a casino in this zone, the legislature passed HB2272 on April 2, 2014, and it became law on July 1, 2014. HB2272 lowered the minimum infrastructure investment requirement for the zone from $225 million to $50 million and the privilege fee requirement from $25 million to $5.5 million. In response, the Lottery again opened the southeast zone for bids and received four applications. One applicant dropped out early in the process.
Two of the three remaining applicants submitted proposals for gaming enterprises in Crawford County and one applicant submitted a proposal for a gaming enterprise in Cherokee County. The Crawford County applicants were Kansas Crossing Casino, L.C. with a proposed site in Pittsburg, and Frontenac Development, LLC with a proposed remodel of the former Camptown Greyhound Park in Frontenac. The Cherokee County applicant was Castle Rock Casino Resort LLC with a proposed site less than one mile from both the Missouri and Oklahoma borders.
The new Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board met for the first time on January 7, 2015. On June 23, 2015, after five months gathering input from the applicants, consultants and the public, the Review Board selected Kansas Crossing Casino, L.C.’s proposal as the best possible contract for the southeast gaming zone. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission investigated the background of Kansas Crossing and its directors, officers and other key employees, and on July 2, 2015, approved Kansas Crossing’s background and voted to approve the Review Board’s selection.
On July 13, 2015, the Board of County Commissioners of Cherokee County filed an application for a temporary restraining order, a motion for a temporary injunction to prevent Kansas Crossing from commencing construction of its gaming facility in Crawford County, and a petition for judicial review of the KRGC's July 2nd decisions naming as defendants the review board and its members individually,the KRGC and its commissioners individually, and the Lottery and its executive director. The application and motion were denied and the petition for judicial review was decided in favor of the state. The matter is currently under review in the Kansas Supreme Court.
In addition to its regulatory responsibilities in both pari-mutuel racing and casino gaming, since the passage of KELA in 2007 the KRGC has been the coordinating agency for all illegal gambling complaints and issues in the state of Kansas.
The KRGC is a law enforcement agency with law enforcement officers on staff. The agency works with state and local law enforcement officers, along with state and local prosecutors to maximize the limited resources of all agencies and offices often by taking the lead on many illegal gambling investigations.
The KRGC seeks to maximize resources by educating the public, and achieving voluntary compliance when possible. In addition, the KRGC targets supplier level individuals to prevent the proliferation of illegal gambling devices in the state of Kansas by eliminating the supply and distribution of those devices.
The State Gaming Agency was established by executive order in August of 1995 to fulfill the State of Kansas' obligations under the tribal-state gaming compacts. These compacts were approved by the 1995 Kansas Legislature. The Tribal Gaming Oversight Act adopted by the 1996 Kansas Legislature officially established the State Gaming Agency and attaches the agency to the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission for limited budget and personnel purposes. The mission of the State Gaming Agency is to uphold the integrity of Indian gaming operations in Kansas through the tribal-state compacts and the Tribal Gaming Oversight Act.
The Tribal Gaming Oversight Act establishes an executive director as head of the agency. The executive director is appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation by the Kansas Senate. At the present time the State Gaming Agency consists of twenty-one (21) full-time employee positions. The State Gaming Agency is funded through an assessment procedure set forth in the Tribal-State Compacts. Each of the Tribes operating a gaming facility in the State of Kansas is required to pay the reasonable and necessary costs of regulating done by the Kansas State Gaming Agency.