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Feds deal blow to Park City casino hopes

By Brian Heap
Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:00:29 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 07 2014 06:37:11 PM CDT
(PARK CITY, Kan.) -

Kansas Star Casino will be the only game close to Wichita, at least for a while.

Plans for a tribal casino in Park City were dealt a big blow Monday when the Wyandotte Nation's federal land trust application was rejected.

It took more than 8 years for Park City and the tribe to get the news they didn't want.

"Certainly it's disappointing," said Park City Administrator Jack Whitson.

The city's dream of turning 10.5 acres of land into a thriving casino are dashed. The federal government rejected the Wyandotte Nation's application to put the land into trust, a necessary step toward casino development.

In a 10 page letter to Chief Billy Friend of the Oklahoma based tribe, an assistant secretary of Indian Affairs says the application was rejected because of a technicality with the source of the money used to buy the land.

The State of Kansas successfully argued the tribe commingled its settlement fund with other money, leaving the Department of the Interior "unable to conclude that the Nation used 602 funds exclusively to purchase the Park City parcel."

Letter to Wyandotte Nation

Kansas fought hard against the project arguing a casino in Sedgwick County was a violation of state law. But Park City thinks the state is really just looking out for its own interest and keeping away competition from Kansas Star in nearby Mulvane.

Whitson says it's a plan that would bring 1500 good paying jobs to Park City and boost the tax base for all of Sedgwick County. He thinks the state is saying one thing about economic development and doing the opposite.

"How many millions of dollars of taxpayers' money have we spent fighting this particular tribe? So we spend millions of dollars fighting them and then reject the number of jobs that they could bring into not only this area but the investment as well," Whitson said.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the federal government reached the "correct legal conclusion" in rejecting the tribe's application. The case is headed back to federal court. 

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