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Despite State Lawsuit, New Tribal Casino Opens In Park City

CrossWinds Casino

A new casino owned by a Native American tribe opened Tuesday in Park City.

The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma built the CrossWinds Casino after receiving approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior last May, a decision the state of Kansas is seeking to reverse

CrossWinds Casino was operating in a temporary gaming facility for months while the new 20,000-square-foot building was constructed. The casino, located near E. 77th Street and I-135,  features hundreds of slot machines and video gaming machines, a bar and café, and a high-limit lounge.

The casino is in Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse’s district. She said the casino has the potential to expand the local economy by attracting more people to that growing area of the county.

“More traffic means more people spending money at restaurants, staying at hotels, shopping at small businesses around the area, and not to mention, it will bring new jobs,” Cruse said.

The tribe bought the 10-acre site in 1992 and has tried to open a casino there ever since. The Department of the Interior rejected the tribe’s request to build the casino in 2014 but took regulatory steps last spring to reverse that decision.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in August arguing the tribe doesn't have the legal authority to open a casino in Sedgwick County. Kansas law prohibits casino gaming at that location.

The state attorney general’s office says it filed a brief on Feb. 5 with the U.S. District Court in Topeka. On Feb. 26, the court granted the federal government’s request for an extension to file a response brief. That brief is now due March 15.

"Until that decision is made, they are opening their doors," Cruse said. "Sedgwick County will be a good partner to ensure the safety of all residents who enter their doors."

The county says it is following the legal developments, but has no direct involvement.

“This land is sovereign, and they are exempt from many codes and regulations as such," said Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz. "The county is administering no incentives to this project. Our only role may be to offer fire protection."

CrossWinds is about 30 miles away from the state-owned Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane. Sumner County and the city of Mulvane joined the state in its lawsuit, as did the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska.

The Wyandotte Nation also owns and operates a casino in Kansas City and two casinos in Oklahoma. The tribe did not respond to requests for comment.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.