Kansas Attorney General Takes Wyandotte Casino Ruling to Federal Appeals Court

Posted on: August 22, 2021, 10:34h. 

Last updated on: August 22, 2021, 10:34h.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and four entities filed an appeal Friday in their case against the federal government regarding a tribal casino near Wichita.

Crosswinds Casino
A crowd waits on March 2 outside the Crosswinds Casino in Park City, Kan., on the opening day of the Wyandotte Nation tribal casino’s permanent structure. The casino is the focus of a lawsuit between the state and the federal government. (Image: CrossWinds Casino/Twitter)

The filing in the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals comes after a Kansas federal district judge in May ruled property in Park City, Kan., purchased by the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma was eligible to be taken into trust, and eligible to be used for a Class II casino.

Schmidt, along with the city of Mulvane, Kan.; Sumner County, Kan.; the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri; and the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, claims the Wyandotte Nation invested funds they received decades ago meant expressly to purchase land. Subsequently, federal officials determined the dedicated funds were used to buy another parcel in 1996, four years after the Park City acquisition.

They also say that US District Judge Holly Teeter should not have struck an accounting report that had been used to determine the funding could not have been used for both acquisitions.

Mulvane is a town in Sumner County, about 20 minutes south of Wichita, where the state-licensed Kansas Star Casino is located. The Sac and Fox Nation and the Iowa Tribe both have Class III gaming rights in Kansas.

The plaintiffs filed the case a year ago after the US Interior Department reversed itself and determined the Park City land was eligible to be put into trust. That led the Wyandotte Nation to set up a temporary gaming facility in the northern suburb of Wichita.

Kansas, Other Plaintiffs Question Accounting

The Interior Department initially denied a request by the Wyandotte in 2014 to put the Park City land into trust. However, the tribe reapplied three years later and showed accounting records that indicated the $100,000 they received to buy land was put into a commingled account. That account generated enough interest, tribal leaders claimed, that allowed the tribal nation to buy both with that money, which then made the Park City property – a 10-acre tract bought for $20,000 – eligible to be put into trust.

However, the plaintiffs contend that the tribe spent $180,000 for the other parcel in 1996, a tract in Kansas City, Kan., that is home to the Wyandotte’s 7th Street Casino. They also cite paperwork from December 1995, in which the Wyandotte at that time indicated it was withdrawing a trust application for Park City.

Six months later, the tribe would announce its plans to buy the Kansas City property.

Although the history and accounting matters involved in this appeal may be complicated, the central issues for the Court to decide are simple and straightforward,” the appellants brief stated.

The plaintiffs have requested oral arguments before the appellate panel.

Wyandotte Casino Already Expanding

The Wyandotte opened a trailer in October 2020 that served as the makeshift CrossWinds Casino in Park City while the permanent structure was being built.

The permanent casino, a 20,000-square-foot facility, opened on March 2. The casino features more than 500 slot-like electronic bingo machines.

Last Tuesday, the casino posted a picture on its Twitter account showing work underway on an expansion.

At the grand opening, KWCH-TV reported the tribe planned to offer card games – nonbanked card games like poker rooms are allowed in Class II gaming venues – and potentially a hotel on the property.