Hollywood Casino Delays Kansas Hotel Construction

Construction of a 248-room hotel at Hollywood did not begin as planned this week. Instead, operators Kansas Entertainment will pay Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas 1 percent of annual revenues, or $1.25 million. Officials said a soft hotel market and talk of reopening the Woodlands as a racino also stalled the project.

Officials at Hollywood Casino, owned by Penn National Gaming, recently said they would pay the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas more than million instead of starting construction

of a 248-room hotel as scheduled this week. As part of its deal with the county and city governments signed four years ago, casino operators Kansas Entertainment must pay a penalty of 1 percent of its annual revenues each year until construction starts.

Casino operators Kansas Entertainment said the decision was due to unfavorable economic conditions in the region, especially in the hotel market. In addition, Unified Government spokesman Mike Taylor said company officials were concerned about proposals in the Kansas legislature that would change the way casinos are taxed and allow the Woodlands racetrack to reopen with slot machines, although no action was taken on the racino measure.” It changes the entire revenue and tax structure for the Woodlands racetrack if it reopened with up to as many as 2,800 slot machines,” Taylor said.

He noted in the short term, the Unified Government gets a larger financial benefit from receiving the 1 percent penalty than it would if the hotel were being built. “But in the long run, building the hotel is what we’d rather see,” he said.

Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Mark Holland said, “Hollywood Casino is a strong partner which provides major financial support to our community. While I’m disappointed the hotel project is not moving forward at this time, I’m pleased the Unified Government will receive significant new revenues from the casino operator for as long as the project is postponed. That is a benefit and positive news for our citizens and taxpayers.”

State Rep. Ralph Ostmeyer, chairman of the Senate State and Federal Affairs Committee, said, “That’s just an excuse. With the economy the way it is, I don’t think people have a lot of confidence right now.” He said changes to the state’s current gambling laws are unlikely to occur in the near future.

Articles by Author: Rich Geller

Rich Geller has been writing, editing and translating articles and promotional material about and for the international gaming industry since 1990. His articles have appeared in American and British trade and consumer publications, as well as online. He has worked on projects with international casino operators as a writer and translator. An early supporter of poker in Europe, in 2000 Geller became a founding director of the World Headsup Poker Organisation, which company created the first successful heads-up poker tournament format and was first to incorporate the now ubiquitous “peek” camera in its televised tournaments. He has worked with the Casino Connection International family of publications since becoming involved with Poker BIZ magazine in 2005, and assisted with the first and second World Poker Congress.