Potawatomi threaten lawsuit over new gambling law 4-9-07

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - While one American Indian tribe has already vowed to sue Kansas over its new gambling legislation, two other tribes in the state support the measure and a fourth is not commenting.

Lawmakers recently approved legislation that will allow four state-run casinos at specific spots and slot machines at horse and dog tracks.

Shortly after the legislation was approved, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, which owns the largest casino in Kansas, said it would sue to block the legislation. But the Kickapoo and Sac and Fox tribes support the measure, while the Iowa tribe has remained silent.

Currently, the four tribes own the only casinos in the state because of compacts developed in the 1990s. All the casinos are in northeastern Kansas, and the state receives no direct funding from the games.

Potawatomi Tribal Chairwoman Tracy Stanhoff said the Kansas Constitution requires that only the state operate a lottery. Under the expanded gambling legislation, casinos are defined as an expansion of the state lottery and will be owned by the state, although operated by private companies.

``What they're looking at doing is having government gaming but not running the casinos or having much input on them, so it's not a fair and equal playing field,'' Stanhoff said.

Stanhoff said the expanded gambling would hurt her tribe, which has used gambling money to improve its members' lives and provide health care.

But the Kickapoo, which own the Golden Eagle Casino in Horton, and Sac and Fox, which own a casino in Powhattan, support the bill. The two tribes will bid to build a casino in Wyandotte County. The tribes jointly own 80 acres near the Kansas Speedway and Village West retail and entertainment district in Kansas City, Kan.

Fredia Perkins, tribal chairwoman of the Sac and Fox, said the new legislation ``gets it right.''

``People want destination casinos. They don't want something that you just pass through,'' Perkins said. ``This is not something just for the tribes, but for the whole state.''

The Iowa, which owns Casino White Cloud in Brown County, have in the past proposed building a $270 million resort casino near downtown Wichita, which could be the site of a destination casino under the bill.