Kansas Supreme Court OKs casino plan

Chris Rizo Jun. 27, 2008, 11:16am

TOPEKA, Kan. (Legal Newsline)-A unanimous decision Friday by the Kansas Supreme Court paves the way for more casinos in the Sunflower State.

By upholding the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act, the state Lottery Commission may go ahead with a plan to build four new casinos and place slot machines at racetracks in Kansas City, Kan., and Frontenac.

In the case brought by the state attorney general, the high court decided the question of what the phrase "state-owned and operated" means when it comes to casinos since a state law passed last year requires that casinos in Kansas be "owned and operated" by the state.

The law extends to the Kansas Lottery, which contracts with developers to build and operate casinos.

The agreements make clear that the facilities are state-owned and operated. With the expanded gaming, state lawmakers hoped to eventually collect about $200 million a year.

In February, a Shawnee County District Court judge ruled the state's expanded gambling law is constitutional.

Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who supports the gambling plan, asked Attorney General Stephen Nix to challenge the plan to make sure the law is ironclad.

The attorney general did just that and appealed the lower court's decision, claiming the lottery doesn't have ownership.

He argued for there to be ownership, it has to be acquired and there must be a risk of loss to own something, and the state doesn't have that.

The high court disagreed in their unanimous ruling, siding with the state Lottery.

Justice Eric Rosen wrote for the court that "the payment of gaming revenues directly to the state, the ownership by the state of software licenses, the central monitoring of electronic games, and the authority to enter into management contracts and to supervise the managers" constitute substantial indication of ownership by the state.

The case is State ex rel Stephen N. Six v. Kansas Lottery and Ed Van Petten, No. 99,957.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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