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Sherman Smith sherman_news Former House Speaker Mike O'Neal

Source:sites edit:casino time:2018-04-04

"The bill dramatically changes the gaming environment," Fowler said, "... and materially breaches the state's contractual obligations by authorizing and encouraging closed racetracks to reopen and operate as full-time casinos that will emphasize slot machines and simulcast gaming in full-blown, head-to-head competition with existing state-owned and -operated casinos."

Similar bills have surfaced before. O'Neal, now a lobbyist for Greater Kansas Racing Alliance, compared the arrangement with Ruffin to economic incentives offered to businesses that get a tax break for bringing new jobs to a community.

Racetrack owner Phil Ruffin shut down the park after a failed 2007 vote to expand gaming at the facility. Senate Bill 427 would allow Ruffin to pay a penalty the state would owe to casinos, then pay him back through future revenues.

Sherman Smith sherman_news

Former House Speaker Mike O'Neal on Tuesday urged Senators to support a renewed effort to lower the tax rate for racetracks and allow slot machines at Wichita Greyhound Park.

By lowering the tax rate on racetracks from 40 to 22 percent, dog and horse racing is expected to expand across the state.

Sen. Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia, disagreed with the comparison to economic incentive programs the state uses to attract manufacturing. The bill is projected to add 4,500 jobs in Kansas, which means the state would be paying more than $27,000 to create each job.

If a court agrees with the casinos, the state would have to return $125 million in privilege fees and accrued interest. Ruffin would extend a letter of credit to pay the amount, which would then be returned to him from taxes collected at his facility.

"The last time I  checked," O'Neal said, "you need money. You need revenue desperately. The House is preparing to spend a lot of money on education. I suppose you're fixing to do something."

Topeka attorney Kevin Fowler said the plan is an unconstitutional attempt to renegotiate commitments made to the managers four state-owned casinos.

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