Kansas' third state-owned casino opened Friday. The Hollywood Casino overlooks Turn 2 of the Kansas Speedway.
The $411 million facility has already created 1,000 new jobs and is expected to attract 4 million visitors each year. It follows the Boot Hill Casino which opened in Dodge City in early 2010 and the Kansas Star Casino which opened late last year in Sumner County, south of Wichita.
The Hollywood Casino, a partnership between International Speedway Corp. and Penn National Gaming, is the first to open in the Kansas City area in 15 years.
The gaming floor is 95,000 square feet and includes a bar and restaurant. The Kansas Speedway is already an economic magnet on the Kansas side of the metro area. Outlet stores, a minor league ballpark and a new stadium for MLS team Sporting Kansas City have all opened since the racetrack opened in 2001.
The recession caused a downturn in attendance for NASCAR events nationwide. However, operators of the casino say the economic recovery and the new casino will bring people back to the track.
The speedway hosts two Sprint Cup races each year. It hopes one will be run at night starting in 2013. The track installed lights last year and drew about 25,000 fans for an ARCA race at night.
In 2007, the Kansas Legislature approved the creation of four casino zones in the state. There is still no plan in place for a fourth casino in southeastern Kansas.