• Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

Posting date: July 14, 20,23, 10h36.

Last updated: July 14, 2023 at 10:50 a.m.
The Wichita native’s dream made a giant step forward this week after it secured the state’s lone license to operate historical horse racing machines (HHRs) in Sedgwick County. This week, the Wichita native made a huge step towards realizing his dream after securing the lone state license for historical horse race machines in Sedgwick county. Ruffin and his team hope to open the casino in late 2024. (Image:

The Wichita Eagle

Phil Ruffin Kansas casino Wichita HHR
)HHRs look and operate similarly to Las Vegas-style slot machines but their outcomes are based on previously run horse races and the machines are actually pari-mutuel wagering devices. The Kansas Legislature passed a bill last year authorizing the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission to issue a single license for HHRs.The permit allows the licensee to operate up 1,000 historical racing machines on a designated property at Sedgwick. After initially fielding three bids for the lone concession, KRGC officials invalidated Boyd Gaming’s application since the Las Vegas-based casino company already operates the Kansas Star Casino on the Kansas Lottery’s behalf.

Another bid was subsequently withdrawn this week. Ruffin was the only bidder for the HHR licence. During the agency’s meeting on Thursday, the KRGC formally approved Ruffin for the gaming license.

Wichita Greyhound Park Reimagining

With an HHR license in hand, Ruffin, who owns Treasure Island and Circus Circus in Las Vegas and who additionally controls a 50% stake in the nongaming Trump International Las Vegas, plans to renovate his former Wichita Greyhound Park into a casino and country music venue.

Ruffin says he’ll spend $128 million to transform the former greyhound race track, which he closed in August 2007 after voters in Sedgwick County rejected a local referendum to permit electronic gaming machines at the track. The casino will span three floors of what’s currently the track’s grandstands, and include a bar and simulcast pari-mutuel facility.

There’s a lot to do. There’s a lot to do. We’re going have restaurants, pizza by the piece, smoothies, and other great food prepared by our Las Vegas executive chef, who will come and train our staff,” Ruffin’s Wichita-resident son, Phil Ruffin Jr. said. “We are a long distance away. It’s about 14 months before we open. I’m hoping to open ahead of schedule, and on budget. The casino, which will be named the Golden Circle, will employ 400 people. The initial $128 million investment includes a country music bar named Gilley’s Dance Hall & Saloon. The bar will be modelled after the Texas honky tonk bar that was featured in John Travolta’s 1980 hit film “Urban Cowboy.”

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Dogs won’t return

Ruffin has said he does not plan to bring greyhound racing back to the track which will soon be called the Golden Circle Casino. Kansas is one of only eight states that still doesn’t prohibit dog racing, with the others being Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

While dog racing is legal in those states, the only active dog racetracks are in West Virginia. Wichita Greyhound Park was home to live dog racing between 1989 and 2007.

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