Kansas Casino’s Opening Delayed by Brandon Steven Group’s Castle Rock Lawsuit, Among Other Issues

Posted on: March 11, 2017, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: March 10, 2017, 03:52h.

After construction delays and legal challenges, Kansas Crossing Casino is finally ready to serve the people of the Sunflower State. The wait has been a bit longer than expected. A grand opening was scheduled for March, but has been pushed forward now to April 8, due to a lawsuit related to the bidding process.

Brandon Steven Kansas Crossing lawsuit
Car dealership owner and semi-pro poker player Brandon Steven’s investor group lawsuit is but one reason the Kansas Crossing Casino has had delays in opening. (Image: Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle)

Not that most are complaining. Enthusiasm has largely surrounded the resort that’s already brought more than 400 jobs to the small town of Pittsburg, Kansas, which has a population of approximately 20,000.

This is the fourth state-owned casino there and joins five Indian facilities. The building is located near the northwest portion of the state and is expected to pull in not only area gamblers, but ones from nearby Missouri and Oklahoma.

Bidding Wars

When government officials opened the bidding process in 2015 for a new gaming house, there were three companies that made pitches. A team of Topeka investors, who had already built two of the three other state casinos, were the winning bidders behind Kansas Crossing, which wasn’t nearly as ambitious as the other two projects they’d already created.

In fact, it was by far the smallest of the three. But the approximately $70 million development featured more than 625 slot machines, 16 gaming tables, a 123-room Hampton Inn and Suites, and an entertainment complex.

When a since-disbanded state board accepted the Topeka bid as the lowest and smallest footprint, one of the two losing bidders filed a lawsuit to stop the building process already underway. In that group was Brandon Steven, whose suit claimed that his group’s proposal offered a better-valued project.

Fighting Back

The investors of Castle Rock, the defeated group in which Brandon Steven is vested, continues to fight the ruling. The well-known poker player and businessman is no stranger to controversy. It was revealed in February that he was under federal investigation for unknown reasons, but Steven remains dedicated to appealing the judgment.

The Castle Rock legal documents contend that the board was legally obligated to choose the group’s contract, because, according to the legal filing, “it best maximizes revenue, encourages tourism and otherwise serves the interests of the people of Kansas. The Lottery Review Board received this evidence and ignored it, selecting the contract which offers lower gross revenue, fewer tourists, lower tax revenue, fewer amenities and fewer jobs,” the suit maintains.

The state board has countered the accusations by saying the projections were overinflated. One board member told the Wichita Eagle that Kansas Crossing was simply a better fit for the area.

“[It’s] more of a Kansas midwest environment and somewhat modern,” said board member Gail Radke about Kansas Crossing. “Castle Rock was a little bit more contemporary for that rural area.”

Castle Rock lost its appeal in district court and in late January, presented oral arguments to the State Supreme Court. The case has not been decided, but even if the court rules in the investors’ favor, it is doubtful that Kansas Crossing would not open as planned.