Southeast Kansas Gaming Bill passes House, now heads to Governor - KOAM TV 7

Southeast Kansas Gaming Bill passes House, now heads to Governor

Southeast Kansas is once again, opening up the door to bringing a casino into Cherokee or Crawford counties. Recently passed legislation is now giving investors a new reason to build here.

"You need 21-63 and 1. Meaning 21 votes in the senate, 63 in the house and then the governor has to sign it." says KS Senator Jacob LaTurner of the 13th district.

The gaming bill proposed by LaTurner, a Pittsburg native, has already passed through the senate, and this week passed through the house.
Another supporter of the bill is Representative Michael Houser of Columbus, who sponsored the bill.

"We've got a serious hole down here. Thousands go out to Oklahoma tribes, and for Missouri and Kansas on a daily basis, I'm just trying to bring some of it back." Houser says.

LaTurner's big push for economic development was a primary reason for this bill.

"This is an economic development issue. There are a dozen casinos in Ottawa County Oklahoma and we're losing revenue to them every day." he says.

The bill lowers the investment required for a casino in Cherokee and Crawford counties from $225 million to $50 million.  
It also drops the fee to develop the casino from $25 million to $5.5 million, which will help assist in county development.

Back when Penn National was looking to build a casino in Cherokee County, feasibility studies found that the best place to put it would be next to I-44. But with the new legislation, if a casino does decide to build in Cherokee County, new feasibility studies will have to be done. But officials say that shouldn't close any doors to the possibilities.

One of the areas up for debate is land in Cherokee County.
Cherokee County Commissioners welcome the idea of a casino, but with the proper measures being taken.

"If it does come here, we owe the citizens of Cherokee county 1, because there are some negative effects with gaming the revenue that we do get, I think it's important we set up some type of program that addresses that." says Commissioner, Richard Hilderbrand.

LaTurner believes this is a step in the right direction.

"I think we've really put ourselves in a great position to grow and have a competitive advantage over Missouri and Oklahoma". He says.

There is no official word on when the governor will make a decision on the bill. LaTurner says if Governor Brownback does sign the legislation, it could take months for the bidding process from investors to begin before any land is finalized for building.

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