International edition
June 22, 2021

Its corporate spokesman said he expects the city to review its latest proposal

Las Vegas Sands cleared to offer second casino plan in Kansas City

(US).- Las Vegas Sands Corp. was within its legal rights to seek a casino license in Kansas City, without city approval, Attorney General Stephen N. Six said Thursday. But in a formal opinion requested by the city, the state's top legal officer also said Wyandotte County's Unified Government is within its rights to decline the company's plan a second time.

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ity officials were noncommittal Thursday on their next step. “That's for the governing body to decide,” said Hal Walker, general counsel for the Unified Government. This week it won additional time to make its decision after the Kansas Lottery Commission extended for 60 days, from the end of March to May 27, its own deadline to sign contracts with would-be casino developers.

Sands corporate spokesman Andrew F. Abboud said he expects the city to review its latest proposal. “The attorney general said they have the right to proceed and hear it, and we expect them to hear it,” he said.

The Sands also has filed a casino proposal with Edwardsville that would include a 17,187 sqm casino with a 300-room hotel, shops and a multipurpose center south of Interstate 70 near 110th Street. Those plans are unaffected by the company's controversy in Kansas City.

The Sands' initial proposal stumbled over opposition from neighbors and others who complained that the us$ 500-million-plus project with 5,000 slots, 200 table games, a 300-room hotel and outdoor amphitheater was inappropriate for the semi-rural area off Leavenworth Road west of I-435. Unified Government officials rejected the plan but endorsed three competing casino proposals and forwarded them to the Lottery Commission for further review and approval.

When the Sands submitted its proposal to the commission without a city endorsement, the state agency said the company could retroactively seek the required city approval.

When it refiled its zoning plan with the city sand it included several changes to accommodate critics, questions arose whether the second submission ran afoul of a city regulation that bars for one year reconsideration without “significant physical, economic or land use changes.” The regulation leaves it to city officials to determine whether changes are significant.

Six's opinion upheld that regulation for casino plans. “It is within the discretion of each municipality to establish its endorsement criteria … (and) determine whether the applicant has complied,” Six said. Walker said he was pleased the attorney general “ratified that locals control the endorsement process,” and not the state.

Abboud contends that the Sands' proposal qualifies for a rehearing. “It seems clear that the changes are significant enough,” he said, listing new roadway configurations, more land and an overall project cost now totaling us$ 777 million.

The Kansas Expanded Lottery Act approved last year allows one state-owned casino in four designated zones, since narrowed to Wyandotte, Sumner, Ford and Cherokee counties.

The Lottery Commission has until its May 27 deadline to review endorsed proposals and negotiate proposed management contracts with each applicant. Those contracts then go to the newly established Gaming Facility Review Board, which has 60 days to select one applicant in each zone. That deadline can be extended an additional 60 days.

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