On July 13, it was reported that the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission voted unanimously to award the state’s only license to Phil Ruffin’s group to officially open the historic horse racing casino, called Golden Circle, at Wichita Greyhound Park, giving the Wichita-born-and-raised casino mogul a chance to open a casino directly where Wichita Greyhound Park once stood, which officially closed in 2007. In addition, with this license, the proposed casino is allowed to operate 1,000 historical horse racing (HHR) machines.
Reopening the door:
In 2022, the Kansas Legislature passed legislation to legalize sports wagering, which changed things for the proposed casino. The Kansas Legislature passed legislation in 2022 to legalize sports wagering, which changed the proposed casino’s situation. Boyd Gaming owns the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane. This is why Boyd Gaming was disqualified. And disqualification is logical because Boyd Gaming is the owner of the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane.
Furthemore, the Golden Circle casino proposal was well received, as it has received letters of support from Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Pete Meitzner, Kansas House Speaker and Wichita Republican Dan Hawkins, former Wichita City Council member Sharon Fearey, Park City’s city council, former Sedgwick County Sheriff Mike Hill and Paul Treadwell, who wanted a license to add machines at Wichita’s Towne West Square, but recently withdrew from the race without explanation. On that note, Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission Chairman David Moses, commented the board’s unanimous vote to validate the license, saying: “With the presentations, with the information they provided during the application process as well as during those three days of hearings overwhelmingly convinced us they had the wherewithal, economics, the ability and the vision to be successful with a HHR casino.”
Wichita Greyhound Park renovation plans:
According to Ruffin’s plan, he will invest $128 million in redeveloping the park to become a three-story casino. In addition to the entertainment and hotel options, the refurbishment will include the huge country music bar Gilley’s Dance Hall and Saloon. It was developed after the popular Texas honky Tonk club featured in the hit movie “Urban Cowboy” starring John Travolta. The renovations are expected to be completed and the casino opened in 14 months. The building has been there since 1989. There is a lot of room in there. There is a lot of work to be done. Our executive chef from Las Vegas will come and train our staff. We’ll have pizza by the piece, smoothies and other great foods. It’s a long way off. It’s about 14 months before we open. I’m hoping to open ahead of schedule, and on budget. It’s a long row to hoe, and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Additionally, commenting on the license award, he said: “We are ecstatic with the news. We have been trying to renovate and open Wichita Greyhound Park.” Never give up. We didn’t give up. It was a huge day for the organization and especially Mr. Ruffin.” The casino would have three floors of entertainment, wagering on horse racing via simulcast from premier tracks, a nightclub, and a hotel with more than 100 rooms. Ruffin Companies said: “Golden Circle does not plan to bring back greyhound racing.” The casino would consist of three floors of entertainment, wagering on horse racing via simulcast from premier tracks, a nightclub and a hotel with more than 100 rooms.” Also, when asked to comment on the raising of concerns and the questions of whether greyhound racing will return to the upcoming casino, Ruffin Jr. said: “Golden Circle does not plan to bring back greyhound racing.”As soon as the proposed casino opens, Ruffin also have one more plan in mind, which is to construct a 110-bed hotel.Residents are against HHR machines:However, the casino will include the 1,000 HHR machines as mentioned above, which are set up so players may replay or watch the outcome of the races they’ve placed a bet on, if they decide, that were refused by Sedgwick County voters a several months before Ruffin made the decision to close the greyhound park. Additionally, this machines randomly chose races from a database containing thousands of races.
Furthermore, during August 2007, the voting was taken between Sedgwick County residents to decide whether electronic gaming machines would be allowed at the former greyhound park, resulting in a rejection by just under 250 votes. A separate vote was held to allow a casino in Sedgwick county, and this was also rejected. A 2014 law, however, prevented voters from voting on the issue until 2032. Park City Mayor John Lehnherr spoke about the impact of the new casino on his community, saying: “We have four exits from the interstate and that means a lot more people stopping to spend their money.” We would like as many people to be able to come here and spend their money.