Gaming companies fail to come through by Jan. 21 deadline

What happens if you offer a casino license and nobody applies for it? If you’re the Kansas Lottery Commission, you extend the deadline.

Jan. 21 was to have been the deadline for applying to build and manage a casino in the Southeast Gaming Zone of Kansas (either Crawford of Cherokee counties). But when no applications were received by that date, the commission voted to extend the deadline to April 21.

The Southeast license has been awarded last September to Penn National Gaming, which reportedly won the bidding by default (the other applicants dropped out) and soon gave up the license, arguing the casino wouldn’t be profitable under the state’s terms. Noting competition from a nearby Native American casino in Oklahoma, Penn National asked to build a scaled down casino and, when Kansas balked, gave back the license. Cherokee County has since filed a $53-million breach-of-contract lawsuit against Penn National.

Following the commission’s vote, talk circulated that the commission might agree to scale back the proposed Southeast casino project from the required $225 million minimum investment, and allow the casino to be built over a longer period of time.

With three of four Kansas gaming zone licenses being rebid, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius asked for the state’s 2009 budget to be redrafted to account for the loss of $25 million in gambling privilege fees that are not likely to be forthcoming this year.