Cherokee County Voters have given their permission to the plan of building a state-owned casino facility in the Southern Kansas county.
The referendum passed on June 5, 2007 with a total of 4,663 votes in favor of the casino plan compared to the 2,054 votes against the plan – a good margin of nearly 70% to 30%, according to the unofficial results.
The vote that day was the first step in the whole casino approval process and it is likely that it would take 2-3 years before the casino is finally built in the county. Potential developers for the casino facility will have 90 days after the results to submit a proposal for the casino before the Kansas Lottery Commission.
The Lottery Commission will have 3 more months to renegotiate the contracts with the casino operators and pass them to the review board. The review board has 60 days to choose casino managers and pass those names to the State Racing and Gaming Commission for approval.
The law only allows one casino to be built in Southeast Kansas, either in Cherokee or Crawford County. The residents of Crawford County approved the area for the casino through an election in April 2005. Supporters of the casino celebrated their victory that day.
The victory means that the residents realize the benefits that they could get from the casino according to Richard Klemp, VP of Government Relations for Penn National Gaming.
Mark Kerr, the President of the Southeast Kansas Ministerial Alliance, which blocks the slots casino, stated that the casino supporters’ money made the difference.
The Penn National Gaming and the Kansans for Economic Growth plan to propose the building of a casino and hotel facility on 200 acres of land located on Interstate 44 between Baxter Springs and Galena. No other builders have announced their own plans for a casino in Crawford County or Cherokee County. The casino will also feature an 80,000 ft gaming area with 1,500 slot machines.