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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Pinnacle cancels plans for Louisiana project

16 April 2010

LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana -- Pinnacle Entertainment canceled plans Thursday to build the Sugarcane Bay casino addition to its Lake Charles, La., resort, saying that it will surrender the related gaming license to state casino regulators.

The Las Vegas-based casino operator said it will continue to operate its flagship L'Auberge du Lac resort in Lake Charles, which is located in western Louisiana, about a four-hour drive east of Houston.

Originally, Sugarcane Bay was budgeted as a separate $305 million hotel- casino that would be built near L'Auberge. Earlier this year, the company scaled back plans for the project and turned Sugarcane Bay into a casino expansion at the existing resort.

Pinnacle Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Anthony Sanfilippo, who took over day-to-day operations of the company in March, said the casino operator is committed to Louisiana, where it also runs casinos in New Orleans and Bossier City and is planning to build a casino in Baton Rouge.

Sanfilippo reaffirmed the commitment to the hotel-casino project in Baton Rouge, saying the company had entered into a construction contract to build a 100-room hotel and a casino with 1,300 slot machines and 50 table games.

"Pinnacle's updated Louisiana development and growth strategy reflects the company's focus on disciplined capital spending and expansion and our commitment to focusing on operational excellence throughout our property portfolio," Sanfilippo said.

Pinnacle, since the resignation last year of former CEO Dan Lee, has scaled back development plans in several markets. An Atlantic City Boardwalk casino site, which was to house a $2 billion resort, is now up for sale and the project was canceled.

Last month, Pinnacle opened the $380 million River City Casino in suburban St. Louis. However, it also announced it would close an aging riverboat casino in downtown St. Louis by July and return that facility's gaming license to Missouri regulators.

The company also operates Lumiere Place in downtown St. Louis.