Boot Hill Casino
A Year of Progress
by Mark Vierthaler
Drive across western Kansas along US Highway 50 some night. If you’re lucky and the moon is full, you’ll see field after rolling field, splashed and bathed in silver light, occasionally broken up by the little cluster of lights from a small town.
But pass through Dodge City some evening, and as you reach the western edge of the highway, you’ll crest a hill and come across a site that seems just a bit out of place in the windy Kansas prairie. And yet, the Boot Hill Casino and Resort makes perfect sense, nestled among the hills west of the Queen of the Cowtowns.
On this particular wintery fall evening, the brightly-lit parking lot is full, but everything outside is silent. Other than the occasional rumbling of trucks and cars passing along the nearby highway, there’s nothing to be heard. Push open the large glass doors and you’re suddenly transported into a shining new casino, bathed in its bright, warm, and ringing atmosphere. Hundreds of people mill about, young and old, retired couples, young business men and women.
They’ve come from Dodge City and as far away as New York and Alaska to get a taste of what made Dodge so famous back in the days of the Wild West. One year after opening its doors, casino management says things are still going strong.
“I think that, overall, things are going extremely well,” said Mark Kashuda, general manager. “The community has overwhelmingly accepted Boot Hill Casino and Resort.”
Kashuda said that the steady stream of people over the past 12 months have routinely commented on how clean and well-run the casino was.
“We kept receiving compliments on the cleanliness of the facility and the friendliness of the staff,” he said. “I really think those two things were key. We set out to create a clean, comfortable place for people to relax and be entertained.”
Jessica McNiece, director of marketing, said a good number of locals make up the casinos regular traffic, although they have been able to reach out and draw visitors from all across the union. Of course, there are also those in Kansas who have been more than happy to make the trek to Dodge.
“A lot of our traffic is local,” McNiece said. “But then again we do have a lot of people coming from Wichita, Colorado, etc.”
McNiece said that after the original surge of numbers when the casino first opened last December, attendance has evened out to a steady, but profitable stream. Not only are new visitors coming by, she said, but they’re seeing an increase of older family members returning home now that there’s something different to do in Dodge City.
While the casino always welcomes new visitors, Kashuda said that there are the regulars who still come in and make it part of their recreation.
“I don’t know if we have percentages, but intuitively, while walking the floor, I see a lot of the same faces,” he said. “Even people who have made trips to come here and aren’t local, we see quite a few of them return as well.”
Celebrating One Year
While very happy with their first year, Kashuda said it would be nice to finally have a benchmark wherein the casino could start comparing its business. That first year in, management had no real way to hold themselves up for comparison. With a year’s experience, Kashuda said he felt management was much more confident.
“We don’t forsee any issues in the upcoming years,” he said.
To celebrate its anniversary, the casino held special events from the end of November until the beginning of the new year. Players had the chance to win an anniversary pint glass, as well as take home one of the specially-themed poker chips.
“It’s something nice for people who want to feel like a part of something big,” McNiece said.
One year in, the casino doesn’t have any plans to stop being southwest Kansas’ go-to recreation hotspot. Increasing numbers of players have put their hats into the ring for recurring poker tournaments.
With a restaurant, Fireside, widely regarded as one of the best in town, and an increasing number of special food and casino deals, McNiece said they expect steady growth over the next several years, especially when the United Wireless Arena opens next door early 2011.
For more information on the casino, visit their Website at www.boothillcasino.com or call them at 1-877-906-0777.