La. approves Pinnacle’s plan to buy Ameristar

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board approved Pinnacle Entertainment’s plan Thursday to buy Ameristar Casinos Inc., which owns Louisiana’s last casino license and is building a $500 million casino development in Lake Charles.

Pinnacle owns the neighboring L’Auberge Casino Resort. It plans to sell the Ameristar site.

Pinnacle still needs approval from the Missouri Gaming Commission, which is scheduled to consider the matter next week, company spokesman Kerry Andersen said.

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. agreed in December to buy Ameristar for $869 million and to take on $1.9 billion of Ameristar’s debt. If the deal goes through, it would double Pinnacle’s size.

Both companies are based in Las Vegas. Ameristar’s holdings include casinos in Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Mississippi, Indiana and Nevada. Pinnacle has casinos in Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana.

It has said that in Missouri, it plans to sell as its own Lumiere Place Casino, HoteLumiere and the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis. Pinnacle said in June that it had reached an agreement in principal with the Federal Trade Commission, which had said the buyout could diminish competition in the Missouri and Louisiana casino markets.

Anthony Sanfilippo, chief executive officer of Pinnacle Entertainment, said he expects the FTC to approve a consent order in early August spelling out terms and conditions of the planned sales.