Pinnacle to sell Lake Charles development

Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. said Monday it will sell the Ameristar Casinos development in Lake Charles under a preliminary agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to eliminate concerns about dominating the casino market there.

Pinnacle’s already owns the L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles, with a sister facility in Baton Rouge.

The agreement means that Pinnacle, with FTC approval, will be free to go forward with its proposed $2.8 billion acquisition of Ameristar. Under the deal, Pinnacle will also sell its Lumiere Place Casino, HotelLumier and the Four Seasons Hotel, all in St. Louis to eliminate market domination there.

Ameristar had invested $144.5 million in the Lake Charles casino and hotel project through March 31, and the company expected to spend $84 million on the project during the second quarter.

The Federal Trade Commission had filed a complaint in May saying the Pinnacle-Ameristar deal would lessen competition in Lake Charles and St. Louis.

The agreement is still subject to the negotiation of a consent order, commission approval and regulatory gaming approvals.

Pinnacle agreed to buy Ameristar in December for $869 million in deal that would more than double its size. If the sale goes through, it will also take on $1.9 billion of Ameristar’s debt.

Pinnacle owns seven U.S. casinos, located in Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana, and a racetrack. It is also redeveloping a property in Cincinnati; owns a minority stake in Asian Coast Development (Canada) Ltd. and holds a majority interest in the racing license owner and management contract for Retama Park Racetrack outside San Antonio, Texas.

Ameristar has eight casinos in the United States, in Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Mississippi, Indiana and Nevada.