Jeri Trisler was on pins and needles Friday, eager to find out which developer would win the right to build and manage Ford County's resort-style casino. But now she'll have to wait another week.
Jeri Trisler was on pins and needles Friday, eager to find out which developer would win the right to build and manage a resort-style casino planned for Ford County, Kansas.
But now she'll have to wait another week.
The Kansas Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board was expected to select either the Olathe-based Butler National Service Corp. or its competitor, Wichita-based Dodge City Resort and Gaming, as the Ford County casino developer on Friday. But the board postponed its decision for a week, saying it needed more solid information on the developers' financials before voting.
Trisler said she was disappointed by the delay but she understood the board's reasoning.
"I understand that financial decisions are a big plan, and that we definitely do want to get the one backer that can do what they say they can do and that will help the economy of Dodge City," the Dodge City resident said Sunday.
Butler, which has formed a partnership with the local organization Boot Hill Gaming, wants to build a $92 million resort-style casino complex on the western outskirts of town, near U.S. Highway 50. The company had originally said it would build a temporary casino on that location first but has since backed away from that plan, saying instead that it would divide the permanent complex into two phases.
Dodge City Resort and Gaming's proposal is also divided into two stages, with the first phase consisting of a $60 million casino-and-hotel complex on the northeastern edge of town. The second phase would cost an additional $33 million.
Under Kansas law, the state would actually own the casino but entrust the daily operations to whichever developer wins the contract. The state would receive at least 22 percent of annual gaming revenues, and 2 percent would go into a special fund for helping problem gamblers. Dodge City and Ford County would each receive 1.5 percent of the gaming revenues, and the developer could keep the rest.
The state review board voiced concerns Thursday and Friday about both developers' financial backing, combined with broader worries about economic turmoil in the marketplace. The developers tried to answer those concerns, but the board members said they needed additional evidence that the companies could deliver on their promises.
Ford County Administrator Ed Elam, who attended the meetings with the review board, said Sunday that the decision to postpone the vote came as a disappointment because county officials had hoped to move forward with the project.
"But I can understand the committee's reaction as far as the markets are right now," he said. "I think they're playing it safe to make sure that both of the applicants have the financial wherewithal to actually get the project up and going."
Elam said the board had grilled both developers about their financials on Thursday, and he thought that the companies had provided adequate answers to those questions. But he added that information provided during Thursday's meeting indicated that other casino operations had reported a substantial drop in revenues in the past four to six months.
"I think that their concern was, 'If that's the way the market's going, is the financial wherewithal there for both of the applicants we have?'" Elam said.
Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.