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Hollywood Casino owners get more time to build hotel, avoid penalty for now

Updated: 2014-01-10T03:26:15Z

By MIKE HENDRICKS

The Kansas City Star

Owners of Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway will avoid for now paying an estimated $1.3 million penalty next month for failing to start construction of a 250-room hotel on time.

Penn National Gaming Inc. and its partner, International Speedway Corp., doing business as Kansas Entertainment, will have until May 1 to commit to moving forward on the project. That’s thanks to an extension approved unanimously Thursday by commissioners of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan.

If a decision is not made to go forward by then, the penalty will kick in and Kansas Entertainment will have to pay 1 percent of the casino’s gambling revenues then and every year after until a hotel is built.

The Unified Government estimated those revenues at roughly $130 million in 2013.

Both the hotel and the penalty were part of the original agreement that made way for construction of the $200 million casino, which opened in February 2012.

Within two years of that date, the casino owners were to have commenced construction of a hotel with no fewer than 250 rooms, county administrator Dennis Hays told commissioners. He said that if waiving the penalty for three months would help get that done, it was well worth it.

“The goal is to get a casino hotel under construction as soon as possible,” he said.

In a letter to Hays dated Dec. 17, Penn National Gaming said it needed more time in part because of “the very volatile economic climate of the past few years.”

An October groundbreaking is envisioned, if the decision is to go forward, and the hotel would cost $55 million to $75 million, the owners said.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738 or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

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