Hollywood Casino Gets Hotel Extension

Penn National Gaming and International Speedway Corporation—operating as Kansas Entertainment—will avoid paying a $1.3 million penalty for missing the deadline on a hotel at Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kansas. Kansas Entertainment had committed to build a $200 million hotel within two years of Hollywood's February 2012 opening.

The commissioners of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas recently voted unanimously to give Penn National Gaming and its partner, International Speedway Corporation, doing business as Kansas Entertainment, until May 1 to commit to moving forward on construction of a 250-room hotel at Hollywood Casino. As a result, Kansas Entertainment will avoid paying a .3 million penalty next month. But it will be enforced and Kansas Entertainment also will have to pay 1 percent of the casino’s gambling revenues—estimated at 0 million in 2013–every year until a hotel is built if a decision to go forward is not made by that deadline.

A $200 million hotel was to have been built within two years of the casino’s opening in February 2012. Officials at Penn National Gaming told County Administrator Dennis Hays last month that the company needed  ore time, partly because of “the very volatile economic climate of the past few years.” Hays told commissioners it would be worth it to waive Penn National’s penalty for three months. “The goal is to get a casino hotel under construction as soon as possible,” he said, adding the hotel could open in October if the cost decreased to $55-$75 million.

In Park City near Wichita, Phil Ruffin, operator of Wichita Greyhound Park that closed in 2007, said he wants legislators to let him install slot machines there and reopen. Ruffin shut the park down after voters rejected a ballot measure to allow slots at the track. Lobbyist George Wingert said Ruffin would invest $50-$100 million to renovate the facility if he could offer slots there. Wingert noted reopening the park would create 500 jobs and generate $1.8 million in annual gambling revenue for Sedgwick County.

For the track to reopen, the first step would be for legislators to approve a bill allowing Sedgwick County residents to vote on whether or not they want slot machines there. State Senator Ralph Ostmeyer, chairman of the Kansas Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, said he doesn’t foresee that legislation happening this year. “That’s been an ongoing deal and I don’t see that going anywhere. I don’t think there’s enough votes in the legislature. I’m not getting any pressure to work it,” he said.