03/29/2007 12:00AM

Kansas passes slots bill


The Kansas state House and Senate passed a bill late Wednesday authorizing four full-fledged casinos in the state and slot machines at three racetracks, including the Woodlands in Kansas City.

After passage by a Senate vote of 21-19, the legislation has been sent to Gov. Kathleen Sibelius. It would allow a total of 2,800 slot machines to be split up among the three racetracks in the state, provided voters in the counties approve the devices. Each racetrack would receive a minimum of 600 machines. The Woodlands is the only track in Kansas that holds Thoroughbred racing, and this year the track is scheduled to run a mixed 25-day Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred meet from Sept. 23 to Oct. 27.

The racetracks would compete with full-fledged casinos in Kansas City, Wichita, Dodge City, and a casino to be located in southeast Kansas.

Jayme LaRocca, the incoming general manager at the Woodlands, said that the track was confident a local referendum would pass, and that the track would have machines ready to take bets within a year. The Woodlands also holds greyhound races.

Under the legislation, racetracks will keep 25 percent of the slot revenue, while 7 percent will go to greyhound purses and horse purses. Racetracks would have to pay a one-time $2,500 license fee for each machine

The legislation requires that the Woodlands holds at least 60 days of live horse racing a year, with 10 live races a day. Two of the races on each card are to be restricted to Kansas-bred horses.

LaRocca said that the Woodlands would apply for at least 60 horse racing dates beginning in 2008. The track currently distributes approximately $65,000 a day in racing purses, but has not estimated how the slot-machine revenues would impact purses in the future.