Three applicants are vying for the state’s approval to build a 1,000-machine facility in Sedgwick County where people can place bets on horse races that have already finished.
Casino and real estate magnate Phil Ruffin has applied to locate a historical horse racing facility at the Wichita Greyhound Park.
Flint Hills Entertainment has applied for a similar facility in Towne West Square, and is also asking to establish Eureka Downs Horse Racing Track, which would feature live racing in eastern Kansas.
Wichita developer George Laham and Boyd Gaming want to build a facility called the Diamond Jo casino just south of Hartman Arena in Park City. It would also feature a steakhouse, a bar and a convention space.
“There’s a limit of 1,000 machines, and one of those three applicants will be awarded at some point in the future,” Randy Evans, the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission’s government relations manager, told The Eagle. The facility will be made possible through the state’s sports betting law, which was established last April.
The developers’ proposals have not been made public. Evans said the racing and gaming commission is in the process of evaluating applications for completeness.
“That’s probably going to take about 30 days,” he said. “At that point, then we will start the process of setting up public hearings where they will submit their sales pitch, their program, to the commissioners.”
Evans said he expects those hearings to take place this summer. The process will be similar to the selection of the four state-owned casinos.
Historical horse racing machines resemble slot machines and allow bettors to select horses in previously run races based on their track record. Bettors don’t get to know the name of the horse or jockey or the date or track where the race was run.
“A typical slot machine, electronic gaming device at a casino now is a game of chance,” Evans said. “You put your money in, press the button and a random number generator will determine the outcome of whether you win or lose.”
By contrast, historical horse racing is a game of skill, he said.
After bettors make their selection, a screen on the machine will display a video clip of the last few seconds of the race.
Boyd Gaming, which owns the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, sued the state, alleging that the authorization of historical horse racing machines violates a Sedgwick County non-compete agreement that was supposed to extend to 2032.
This story was originally published March 2, 2023, 12:08 PM.
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Matthew Kelly joined The Eagle in April 2021. He covers local government and politics in the Wichita area. You can contact him at 316-268-6203 and firstname.lastname@example.org.