Pinnacle Entertainment expands Baton Rouge casino complex plan to $357 million

By Alan Sayre, AP
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pinnacle expands Baton Rouge casino plan to $357M

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. has expanded its plan for a riverboat casino complex in Baton Rouge, including a larger hotel, more playing positions for gamblers and a covered parking facility.

Las Vegas-based Pinnacle said late Monday that it decided to boost the project from $250 million to $357 million after studying the Baton Rouge market, which currently has two riverboats.

“Current market research indicates that a very significant portion of the adult population in Baton Rouge region bypasses two existing gaming options and travels two to three hours to other gaming markets,” Pinnacle CEO Anthony Sanfilippo said in a statement. “The expanded scope of our project will address this customer demand with a high-quality entertainment option that will be significantly closer to potential guests.”

Pinnacle plans to compete against Hollywood Casino, owned by Penn National Gaming Inc., and the Belle of Baton Rouge, owned by Tropicana Entertainment Inc.

The new Pinnacle plan doubles the size of the casino’s hotel from 100 to 200 rooms and adds 257 more playing positions for a total of 1,857, in addition to the 800-car parking garage. The plan also envisions three restaurants, a multi-event center and outdoor festival grounds.

Pinnacle said it expects to fund the remaining $343 million budget through cash-on-hand, cash flow from its other properties and a $375 million credit facility that it has not yet used.

The expanded plan will have to be approved by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

In April, Pinnacle scuttled dropped plans for a $305 million plan to build a second hotel-casino in Lake Charles. It would have been a companion to the current L’Auberge du Lac resort, which typically leads Louisiana’s 13 riverboat casinos in the amount of money won from gamblers.

At that time, Pinnacle said it was considering expansion of the scope of its Baton Rouge project. Four groups have applied for the license that Pinnacle returned to the state after canceling its Lake Charles project. Three of those groups envision a Lake Charles casino. The license is the 15th and final riverboat casino license permitted by state law.

Pinnacle also owns the Boomtown riverboat casinos in Bossier City and the New Orleans suburb of Harvey.

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