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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Louisiana gives Pinnacle tentative OK to open $368 million L'Auberge Baton Rouge

20 August 2012

Louisiana gaming regulators approved the August 29 opening of the $368 million L’Auberge Casino Hotel Baton Rouge, pending a final inspection.

The project, being built by Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc., is taking up a small portion of a 575-acre site in Baton Rouge along the Mississippi River.

In Louisiana, gaming — other than at Harrah’s New Orleans — must be conducted over water. Pinnacle’s single-level, 74,000-square-foot casino is moored over the river, but set back from main navigation channels.

The property, which Pinnacle began building in May 2010, will have nearly 1,500 slot machines; 50 table games, including a poker room; a 12-story hotel with 205 rooms, a rooftop pool and fitness center overlooking the Mississippi River; four dining outlets; a casino bar with river views and 2,400 total parking spaces, including an 800-space covered parking garage.

The Louisiana Gaming Control board gave Pinnacle permits so that employees can board the casino for training.

The board passed a resolution allowing the chairman to sign off on allowing gambling operations to begin provided the remaining certifications are approved. The architects need to certify that the complex is substantially complete and ready for occupancy. The Louisiana State Police needs to complete its pre-operative inspection.

Pinnacle built the last casino opened in Louisiana back in 2005 in Lake Charles.

Last week, Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon visited L’Auberge Baton Rouge and came away convinced that low expectations by investors are unfounded.

Beynon said L’Auberge, the third casino in Baton Rouge, would immediately become the market’s premier property.

“[The] differentiated product (with a Las Vegas feel) should increase local gaming penetration, take significant share from existing low-quality riverboats and most importantly draw some players who frequent the nearby regional markets of New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss.,” Beynon said.

He also noted the casino is five miles from “Death Valley,” the nickname given to the stadium that is home to the top-ranked Louisiana State University football team.

“Manufacturing, chemical and oil/energy jobs continue to make Louisiana and Baton Rouge a healthier market than most,” Beynon said. “Unemployment stands at 7 percent to 8 percent while housing prices remain much more stable than the national average.”