The Kansas Lottery Commission held a news briefing Wednesday to talk about the closing of the Woodlands, and the reasons why two groups with casino proposals dropped out.

The Kansas Lottery Commission held a news briefing Wednesday to talk about the closing of the Woodlands, and the reasons why two groups with casino proposals dropped out.
Ed Van Petten, Kansas Lottery executive director, spent much of the briefing talking about how things have changed in the past 15 months, including how the gaming landscape, and the revenues expected, have declined.
Van Petten said there were a number of factors for that. One, he said, was the factor of competition from adjoining states. Then, he said, there was the generally declining economy.
“We are aware of the impact of the Woodlands closing and Camptown not being open,” Van Petten said.
He said there were an estimated 309 greyhound breeders, owner and operators and more than 24,000 dogs in the state. He said the Lottery would “dedicate everything we can” to finding a solution.
Van Petten said dialogue was still open between the Lottery and the two tracks, and said the state and the Woodlands “substantially have a contract.” He said the owner of the Woodlands was worried they couldn’t make a profit right now.
With regard to Camptown, Van Petten said things weren’t quite as settled.
“We have not negotiated with them for two months,” Van Petten said.
But he said both sides were still in close contact.
Part of the problems, Van Petten said, were that estimated net machine incomes were down substantially. A year and a half ago, machines were estimated to bring in $250 to $300 per machine per day. Now, that number is set between $142 and $145.
Van Petten said he was convinced that a time would come when the tracks would be viable for the managers, likely “when the economy comes back.” He said changing the statute was another option.
Phil Ruffin Jr. with Camptown did not return a call for the story, but Ruffin has said on multiple occasions that changing the statute was a must for the track to be viable.
Van Petten said the casinos would be on track for completion in late spring or early summer of 2010.
Robert Krehbiel, state chief gaming officer, also took time to address the rumors that Penn National would be pulling out of southeast Kansas, stating that it would have a positive impact on Camptown.
“If no casino will be opened there, it gives (Camptown) a better chance to reopen,” Krehbiel said.
Krehbiel said he didn’t expect Penn National to pull out, though he acknowledged that situations change “rapidly.” He said if that did happen, he believed there would be another group ready to try and compete for the region.
In terms of the state’s relationship with Camptown, Krehbiel said, “we’ve disagreed on a number of points, but we’re not disagreeable.”

Kevin Flaherty can be reached at kevin.flaherty@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 Ext. 134