Proposed casino developer questions most of economic report - KOAM TV 7

Proposed casino developer questions most of economic report

Pittsburg, KS - A new economics report dealing with casinos could make a difference when it comes to a state committee choosing a developer to build a new casino in Southeast Kansas.  There are three casino proposals:  Two in Crawford County and one in Cherokee County.  Two people, supporting two different casino proposals, have different opinions of the report.

B.J. Harris, with the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau, calls this "viability evaluation" a three-thousand dollar investment, paid for in-full by the Convention and Visitors bureau.

"That's fair money to pay if it results in getting a casino here in Crawford County," says Harris.

But people behind a casino proposals in Cherokee County say the study is worthless.

"The analysis they used was, I don't even know what word to use, because it was so bad," says Greg Ferris with the proposed Castle Rock Casino in Cherokee County.

Ferris talks about the report's claim that Castle Rock's estimated 140 million dollar casino construction cost would actually cost 120 million dollars more.

"The numbers that are being thrown out there are swaying public opinion.  Which is fine, that's the way numbers are used.  We're hoping to level the playing field a little bit to indicate that maybe those numbers aren't as accurate as they're saying," says Harris.

"They (report authors) took a casino, and they figured how many slot machines it had, and that gave them a number it would cost us to build our casino," says Ferris.

The report averaged this slot machine to construction cost ratio among several casinos across the nation.  Ferris says the estimated Castle Rock cost also includes square footage.

"We have a firm bid to build this thing for the numbers that we have in our proposal," says Ferris.

Ferris says other claims in the report are also untrue, such as an overestimated number of employees at Castle Rock.  Bottom line:  While Ferris says the analytics company behind this report was not qualified for the job, Harris stands by this report that he believes was expertly researched.

"I mean, that's their main industry, is casino analytics, viability studies," says Harris.

"Using their numbers, neither of the other two casinos could be built for anything close to what they're saying they could be built for," says Ferris.

The Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau has no plan right now for a similar study on two casino proposals in Crawford County.

Workers with the Castle Rock Casino proposal say they really aren't worried about this report, saying people will most likely notice what they say are bias conclusions in this report.  A state committee is expected to chose one of three developers for the project sometime next month.

Click here for the full economic report.  Click here for Castle Rock's rebuttal. 

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