The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 4, 1997 · Page 88
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 88

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, May 4, 1997
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Page 88
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THE SALINA JOURNAL SUNDAY, MAY 4, 1997 17 Rolling the Riverboats, tribal casinos attract more gambling dollars as racetracks suffer By ALF ABUHAJLEH The Salina Journal iverboat casinos in Missouri and the new tribal casinos in northeast Kansas are attracting a .bunch of out-of-state tourists. The pari-mutuel racing parks are hurting badly, however. Wichita Greyhound Park saw betting decrease nearly 21 percent last year, and the Woodlands in Kansas City, Kan., saw an 18 percent drop in betting at its dog and horse tracks. The state has three other betting racetracks, but two of them, Anthony Downs in Harper County and and Eureka Downs in Greenwood County, run limited seasons. A third park, Camptown Greyhound Park near Pittsburg, ended operations in November 1995. Racing-industry officials are blaming the casinos on both sides of the Missouri River for the losses suffered by the racetracks. The racing industry has asked the Kansas Legislature to allow lottery games at the racetracks to save them from going under. But the Senate defeated the measure in April. Doug Lawrence, a lobbyist for the racing industry, said Wichita Greyhound Park and the Woodlands were the state's hottest tourist attractions until the riverboat casinos began operating in 1994, followed by tribal gambling last year. According to the Kansas Racing Commission, attendance at the Woodlands dropped to about 366,000 people last year from 1 million in 1994. Attendance at the Wichita racetrack fell to 311,000 from 497,000 in the same period. "We are in the same market as the casinos, but we are not allowed to offer the same types of gambling as they are," said Lawrence, representative of Kansans for Racetracks, Agriculture, Charity and Employment. Kathy O'Donnell, an inspector at Kansas Racing Commission, said the pari-mutuel industry around the world is experiencing a decline. "Attendance at racetracks have been down for a while," O'Donnell said. "People move on to other things, including casinos." In Kansas, three tribes have opened casinos since May 1996. The Kickapoo tribe was the first group to launch a gambling enterprise at the Golden Eagle Casino in the Horton area. The tribe recently expanded its facility to offer about 600 slot machines, 20 gambling tables and a 550-seat auditorium. Tribal casinos are not required to disclose financial details from their gambling operations. But Rich Kissin, the general manager of the Golden Eagle said about 25 percent of the gamblers are from other states. "A basic survey of the casino shows that a lot of tourists come here," Kissin said. "We even get people from Kansas City, Missouri." Also expanding is the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Casino, west of Mayetta. The casino, which opened in October, will this fall have 500 slot machines, 40 gambling tables and a 500-seat bingo hall. Also, a 100-bed hotel is slated to open adjacent to the casino. Laura Abeyta, gaming commissioner of the Prairie Band of Potawatomi tribe, said the tribe council is working with Jackson County to promote the casino as a tourist destination. "We see a lot of people from all around the Midwest," Abeyta said. "Some gamblers travel around the country trying different casinos. We have a lot of them, too." The latest tribe to open a casino is the Sac and Fox Nation. The Sac and Fox Casino, 17 miles southwest of Hiawatha, started in February and has 280 slot machines and seven gambling tables. Marketing director Gayle Howard said the casino will double in size by August. Howard said about 20 percent of the casino's visitors come from outside a 50- mile radius of the casino. Matt Brisch, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing's division of travel and tourism development, said it's too early to gauge what effect the tribal casinos have on tourism. "We are not promoting the state through the casinos at this time," he said. "But the riverboats in Missouri have been a success." Indeed, they have. Norris Flowers, director of tourism at the Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Greater Kansas City Area, said 25 percent of the 14 million people that visited the eight-county area in 1996 were riverboat gamblers. According to the bureau's latest figures, $2.8 billion was wagered at the four riverboats in 1995. A fifth riverboat, Station Casino, opened last year. "In the first month the casino was open, the total number of visitors at the riverboats increased by 500,000," Flowers said. "This have helped tourism enormously." POST ROCK OPPORTUNITIES FOUNDATION AN«t-P<oMCapomUon FINE ART CRAFTS FOLK ART QUILTS ANTIQUES April thru DM. Jan. thru Much How»: Daily 8 to a Dally »to 6 Sunday 12 to 6 Sunday 12 to 6 Tourist Information Kansas Foods Hospitality Room With Free Coffee Junction of 1-70 6- K232 Exit 206 North tide of Interchange Wilson, KS 67490 913-658-2602 Im.Jnel NCM United Spriits CD ln,Jilyl:Craisen ln,Jily13 NCIAIitUwSpriitsce flu, Jib Zl Cniseps-TlipJtjTiMlij Thin-lit, Jlly31-Al|. 3 IcIlevilleMiMetNitJiuls UK, Ai|. II Allltin/NCUIlttiwSiriits lu.Aii.11 NCM Lite (Uriels I Mltfifi^ Mu.ltpt. 1:Cniurs CD Plus Small Track • Hobby, Mini Stocks & 3/4 Midgets Cruisers Run On Small Track For More Information: 913-527-2244 913-527-2488 (Race Day) For Midget Nationals Tickets: 913-527-5179 Your Full Service Travel Agency At No Charge To You! Airline-Cruises-AMTRAK- Hotel & Car Reservations & Much More!! I 1997 Escorted Tours Call about our gambling and Kansas City Chiefs trips. New York Spectacular July 2-6 Starlight Theatre and Station Casino July 12 & 13 Montana's Big Sky by Train July 24-29 Rocky Mountain Adventure....July 31-Aug. 5 Fall In The Black Hills Sept. 22-27 New England Fall Foliage Sept. 30-Oct. 9 Branson Bash Oct. 9-12 Kansas City Oghts Nov. 29-30 Christmas In Branson :..Dec. 4-7 603 Washington Concordia, KS 66901 (913)243-1133 (800)626-6589 128 N. Santa Fe Salina, KS 67401 (913)825-0537 (800)842-6315 211 West Iron Ave. Salina, KS 67401 913-826-7460 -^ A Division of the Salina Arts & Humanities Commission Up-and-coming exhibits: May 17-Sept. 21, 1997 Buffalo Bones and Grinding StonesArchaeology: Smoky Hill Peoples 1000 to 1500 A.D. Sept. 29-Nov. 21, 1997 Her Works Praise Her: Inventions By Women Programs every Wednesday in July - Watch your paper! Bring a brown bag lunch and learn about archaeology. Programs begin at 12:15 sharp. Entrees (Reservations preferred for five or more please) Private Room Available for Business Meetings or Dinners .Varlety Sandwiches •Salads •Homemade Soups ttth & N. BVOMINMHI mmm

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