For those who all but gave up on expanded gaming in southeast Kansas after the 2010 Kansas Legislative session, hang on.

For those who all but gave up on expanded gaming in southeast Kansas after the 2010 Kansas Legislative session, hang on.

State Reps. Bob Grant, a Cherokee Democrat, and Doug Gatewood, a Columbus Democrat, have said they plan to introduce a new bill aimed at attracting a destination casino and racetrack slot machines to the region.

The intention of the new legislation, which Grant said he would introduce when the 2011 Legislature convenes in January, will augment a 2007 law that states minimum investments for a casino and dictates how much revenue from slots a racetrack can keep for itself.

The purpose is to lessen the investment requirements for a potential developer to build a casino in the Southeast Zone, which is Crawford and Cherokee counties. It would also increase the percentage of revenue Camptown Greyhound Park would see from slot machines.

“The reason why is because this is southeast Kansas only,” Grant said. “We’re not screwing around with Wichita and, unless Wyandotte County lawmakers put it on, we’re not including The Woodlands.”

During the last session, the Kansas Senate debated a similar measure that did include a re-vote posed to allow slot machines and gaming in Sedgwick County as well as including the slot revenue change for The Woodlands horse and dog track in Wyandotte County. That measure was defeated late in the session.

That bill faced opposition from Penn National, who said it “changed the rules of the game” with regards to The Woodlands.

The three other gaming zones in the state have casino projects that are either built or have proposals that have been approved. Ford County already has a destination casino operational while Penn National Gaming — an original bidder in southeast Kansas — has a contract to build a casino near the Kansas Speedway. The state’s review board recently approved plans for a casino near Mulvane, south of Wichita.

The new bill will drop the minimum investment for a casino from $225 million to $100 million and will increase the racetrack take from slots to 58 percent from its original 40 percent. But the slot provision in the new bill would apply strictly to Camptown.

“We’re not going to push it as what it can do for the state because we haven’t had any luck with that,” Grant said. “We are pushing it as what it can do for southeast Kansas and it is 500 jobs.”

Penn National had received permission from the state review board in 2008 to build and operate a casino in southeast Cherokee County, but dropped its proposal after the Quapaw tribe opened a casino just across the state line four months later.

That casino competition is why some officials believe that the minimum investment for southeast Kansas is too high to attract potential developers.

Newly elected Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he did not see the new bill being able to pass both houses of the Legislature.

“I suspect that gaming is just not an issue that the Senate is going to be overly excited about dealing with,” he said in an interview with the AP.

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140