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Mixed reactions over announcement of new Pittsburg casino - KOAM TV 7

Mixed reactions over announcement of new Pittsburg casino

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Southeast Kansas - Local reaction comes after a Kansas state board recommends Pittsburg as the site of a new casino.  There were three casino proposals that the state board reviewed.  Two of them were in Crawford County.  But supporters of another casino proposal feel politics ended up determining the winner.

Pittsburg's city manager says the real meaning of getting a new casino comes from economic impact.

"Just a piece of the puzzle.  I hope people keep this in perspective.  To us, it's a business.  It's just a big business.  It's a heck of a development," says Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall.

"We need the jobs.  More than any one thing, we need the jobs," says Crawford County Commissioner Tom Moody.

Moody supported both the Pittsburg and Frontenac casino proposals in Crawford County.  But now that Pittsburg's Kansas Crossing casino has been chosen, he says there's a good outlook for the local jobs market.

"I believe they're going to employ between 250 and 300 people to start off with," says Moody.

"The state has probably got it half right," says Frontenac resident John Williamson.

Williamson works at a car wash just down the highway from the Frontenac casino proposal.

"You know what your market is, what your target areas are.  But how much you're going to draw, you don't always know.  That being said, the simplest and easiest way would be deal with one man, and the money is there," says Williamson.

Williamson talks about Phil Ruffin, the Las Vegas Treasure Island casino owner, who also owns the Frontenac land and organized the casino proposal.

"But again, we got it in Crawford County, and that is a big plus," says Williamson.

There was only one casino proposal in nearby Cherokee County, and Cherokee County Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand says the state's appointed board did not follow state statutes by ignoring the numbers.  Hilderbrand says Cherokee County's Castle Rock proposal put forth the best economic stimulus.  

"More income to the state, more tourism, more economic impact," says Hilderbrand.

Instead, Hilderbrand says Cherokee County got the cold shoulder.

"Especially it was reiterated with this vote, that the state line stops at Crawford County line.  We are still part of the State of Kansas," says Hilderbrand.

Cherokee County, Crawford County, and the City of Pittsburg will all receive about $300,000 a year from the new Kansas Crossing casino.

Final approval of the Kansas crossing casino proposal will be up to the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission July second.  Pittsburg's city manager expects groundbreaking on the Kansas Crossing project next month, and he expects the casino to open next June.

Phil Ruffin, the developer behind the Frontenac casino proposal, issued this statement today.  "We wish Kansas Crossing well and we are confident that they will do a great job for the state."  Ruffin has no plans yet for what he will do with the Frontenac land he owns.

We also talked with the developer behind the Castle Rock proposal in Cherokee County.

"The statute is very clear, and one of the board members still couldn't understand it.  You're supposed to be doing destination casinos that generate the most revenue and bring the most tourism and best serve the interest of Kansas.  The only thing they considered was, well they considered the best interest of Kansas was no risk.  And that's what they got, was no risk," says Greg Ferris with Castle Rock.

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