Kansas legislators have the opportunity to pass legislation that will bring the State 4,475 New Jobs, $291M in Annual Wages, $23M Annual State and Local Tax Revenues, Plus $16M impact on Kansas Farm, Ranch and Breeding Operations. That does not even include the additional anticipated $80M in annual revenues derived from gaming for the State. Furthermore, the developer is not asking for any incentives from the State and will invest immediately $60 Million dollars in The Woodlands facility alone. What does that mean to Kansans…JOBS…JOBS….JOBS. With the State now looking for tax revenues to fill the budget gap, there seems to be no logical reason that this legislation would not be good for Kansas. HB 2537 supports changes in current law to make it possible for horse and greyhound racetracks in the state to re-open their doors, bringing an industry and countless jobs back home. Some folks are contending that this bill supports an “expansion of gambling”. It does no such thing. Electronic gaming machines were legalized in 2007.
Kansas may well be the only state in the union where stand-alone casinos are owned by the State and operated by private investors. The Kansas Star at Mulvane, The Hollywood Casino in Kansas City, Kansas and the Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City are in full operation. A fourth casino will soon be constructed in Southeast Kansas near Pittsburg. Why has the fourth stand-alone casino been so long in becoming a reality? Because the legislature initially burdened this area with a minimum investment requirement of $225M and a privilege fee requirement of $25M. The southeast Kansas area economy could not support those huge financial requirements initially established in 2007. Two years ago, the legislature, which included current leadership, saw fit to change those requirements…a $50M minimum investment in facility and a $5M privilege fee. And here came the investors to Pittsburg making application to build and operate the casino!! A similar disparity in the law forced closure of our racetracks in Wichita, Frontenac and The Woodlands in Kansas City.
State-owned stand-alone casino operators are charged 22% of net income, payable to the State of Kansas in the form of a tax. For our racetracks to operate electronic gaming machines, they must pay the state 40%. Racetracks also have the burden of paying purses to support horse and greyhound racing. Racetracks have the cost of personnel to operate the racing operation above and beyond what personnel it takes to operate the casinos. That cost and list of required personnel is lengthy…owners, trainers, jockeys, handlers, exercise riders, grooms, stewards/judges, starting gate personnel, licensing officials, increased security requirements on the backside, track maintenance personnel, veterinarians, ambulance service, and that’s just a partial list. Tell your legislators to support HB 2537 to bring our horses, our greyhounds and the Kansans who support this industry back home.
Dave Tolle, Vassar, KS.