Our Western Heritage

Our Western Heritage
Front Street, Dodge City, circa 1879

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dates for Dodge City/Ford County casino decision - Sept. 18-19

[Note that "The emphasis throughout the process will remain on doing things in the open." There are and have been conflict of interest issues in the Dodge City decisions -- private gain planned that was clearly not discussed in the open. Since no doubt these conflict of interest issues will come up in the July public hearings in Ford County and involve the city/county CFAB committee chair -- unless Mr. Starks is off of CFAB by then -- wonder how they will play with the state?]

Gaming board's job won't be lit by neon, Hutchinson News, June 9, By Carl Manning

Deciding who will manage the four state-owned and operated casinos in Kansas won't be a task filled with glitz and glamour.

More likely, it'll be filled with non-glitzy topics such as revenue estimates, population projections and targeted markets.

By the end of September, the decisions will have been made by the seven-member Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board on the developers for a single casino each in Cherokee, Ford, Sumner and Wyandotte counties.

It's important for the board to pick the strongest proposals and the ones offering the best deals for the state. But it's just as important to do it in the open, where the public can see what's happening. Gambling automatically raises concerns for many.

Over the years, the gambling industry has worked on its image, promoting its locations as family friendly, touting its amenities, donating to various causes and making "gaming" the industry term of art.

"There is a sleaze factor associated with the gambling industry, and some of that is deserved from years ago, and they've worked hard to change that. But the sleaze factor is still there, which makes transparency even more important," said Joe Aistrup, head of Kansas State University's political science department.

He said that makes it even more important for the board to go out of its way to show that everything is on the up and up.

"They want to make sure people perceive the decision was made on the merits of each bid compared to a decision being made based on somebody lining their back pockets," Aistrup said.

Chairman Matt All, the former chief lawyer for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, has emphasized the need for doing everything in the open. To him, transparency is the hallmark of success....

The decision about who will operate the casinos in Cherokee and Sumner counties will come Aug. 21-22 and for Wyandotte and Ford counties Sept. 18-19. Between now and then, board members will conduct public hearings, hear sales pitches from prospective casino managers, talk to their consultants and among themselves....

The emphasis throughout the process will remain on doing things in the open.

"If it gets tainted, then you have the first steps of casino gambling going down the wrong path," Aistrup said. "It could lead to some people wanting to reconsider gambling in the state and maybe legislation affecting the casinos."