Proposed Cherokee County casino could open in summer 2009

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) - A proposed $250 million state-owned casino and
hotel in Cherokee County could open as soon as summer 2009,
developers said this week.

With Route 66 and James Dean themes, the 11-story, 250-room hotel
would include 29 luxury suites, a fountain near the entrance and a
spa and fitness center. The casino would feature 1,200 electronic
games and up to 40 table games, as well as entertainment and
convention space.

Penn National Gaming Inc. has proposed the Hollywood Casino-Cherokee
County to be built off Interstate 44 near Baxter Springs and Galena,
in southeast Kansas.

Under a law passed during the 2007 session, the state must approve
the deal, and the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma also has shown interest in
pursuing a casino in Cherokee County. The winning bidder would handle
the day-to-day operations of the casinos.

Steve Snyder, Penn National's senior vice president of corporate
development, said he expects 510 new full-time jobs in the first year
and a total of 680 full-time equivalent jobs once the complex is

The new law allows resort casinos in Ford County, Wyandotte County,
Sedgwick or Sumner County, and Crawford or Cherokee County. The law
requires local voters to approve the new gambling, and Cherokee
County voters overwhelming approved the casino in June.

Meanwhile, the constitutionality of the state's gambling law could be
tested in court. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has urged Attorney General
Paul Morrison to consider filing a lawsuit to expedite a ruling.