The Boot Hill Casino and Resort celebrated its 10th anniversary this week with tables full of dinner, drinks and dice for the enjoyment of its longtime supporters and newfound fans.
The love child of an idea sprang from the “Why Not Dodge?” campaign and the sale of land to a man still very much involved in its growth and development, the casino has proven itself an overachiever of regional economic benefit.
The first state-owned casino opened Dec. 15, 2009. Since then, it has raked in $100,000 a year, which generated more than $12 million in city and county tax revenue and more than $89 million in state tax revenue, Dodge City Mayor Brian Delzeit said.
“There was a tremendous amount of courage shown by people 10 years ago who came out and weren’t always met with positivity,” Delzeit said.
The man of the hour was Clark Stewart, president of Butler National, the Olathe-based corporation that manages the casino.
Delzeit and Convention and Visitors Bureau director Jan Stevens presented Stewart with a white cowboy hat and a plaque for his hand in creating more than 200 new jobs and enticing 40,000 visitors a year to the venue for entertainment, recreation and the “Old West” experience.
“It’s important we recognize and acknowledge how we got here,” Stewart said in his acceptance speech.
He became emotional when he recalled a conversation he had with the late Joe Bogner. Bogner had approached Stewart to sell him the land on which the casino and the United Wireless Arena now sit.
“ ‘We’ve got to bring the kids to Dodge City,’ Bogner told me," Stewart said. "Our mission really is to keep the kids here. Otherwise we have no future.
“This market is 300 miles in diameter. Really, this market is the whole United States because of the Wyatt Earps and the Matt Dillons.
"It’s a credit to this city that they’ve maintained that Old West image worldwide.”
Like a gentleman, Stewart placed his glory onto those men and women who work under him.
“(Visitors to the casino) drive hundreds of miles to get here and that’s because of our team members,” he said of the casino’s 260 employees, who hail from 11 different countries.
The casino and corporation renewed the operational agreement with the Kansas Lottery Commission earlier this month, which extended it 20 years.
As part of the additional contract, the state will receive an additional 2% revenue above the current revenue percentage, which would equal about $12 million additional dollars to the state over the 15-year period using current financial projections, with an increased state tax rate of 24%, up from 22%.
“It’s a good day for Boot Hill Casino, Dodge City and the State of Kansas,” said casino general manager Diane Giardine. “We are thrilled to extend our contract with the state of Kansas and we are eager to continue offering a fun and exciting gaming environment to the public, making southwest Kansas and Dodge City a must-see tourist destination for years to come.”