Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Hard times hit Kansas.  Government leaders sold their soul to the casino business and lost.

In March 2007 the legislature passed and Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill to approve the first “government owned” casinos in the country.  Casino firms were to build and manage the casinos, but the government would receive 60% of the after expenses revenue.

Seven new casinos were to be spread over the state, and a few casino companies submitted applications.  After the economic crisis developed in November 2007 the casino firms gradually disappeared, asking for their application fees back as they left.  Only one applicant remained for the small casino in Dodge City.  Projected revenues were reduced from $200 million to $24 million for the first year.

What has happened since 2007?  By 2010 revenue from the lone casino reached $20 million and the next year reached $40 million, surpassing the initial projections.  Late in December of 2011 the Kansas Star Casino opened in Mulvane, about 20 minutes from Wichita.  In February 2012 Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City opened.  Revenue peaked at the three casinos in 2013 at $360 million, although a new high may be reached in 2015.  A total of $1,209,000,000 has been extracted from patrons since the opening of the casinos.

Since the Kansas Star has the largest revenues and the Hollywood Casino has across the River competition in Missouri, the Casinos prey on mostly Kansas citizens.  Even worse, instead of the 60% of revenue that the state wanted it has received 22% during the beginning of fiscal 2015, while the casino management receives 73%, but also pays all the bills.  The rest goes to local government (4%) and Problem Gambling Grant Fund (1%).

As a result, the expected revenue reached the goal after six years, the state revenue is a third of what was expected, and addiction has increased.  Two Indian tribes also have casinos.  Kansas is awash in broken expectations at the expense of her citizens, and some tourists at Boot Hill in Dodge City.

“Casino Revenue and Fund Distribution from