Former Pinnacle CEO Lee Wins Louisiana Casino License

Former Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. Chief Executive Officer Daniel Lee won Louisiana’s last casino license, beating two rival bidders including Penn National Gaming Inc.

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board today voted unanimously to award the state’s 15th riverboat license to Lee’s Creative Casinos LLC, which proposed a $400 million project called Mojito Pointe in Lake Charles, next door to his former employer Pinnacle’s L’Auberge du Lac. The commission’s decision requires local voter approval.

Pinnacle, the owner of seven U.S. casinos, surrendered the license last year after scrapping plans to build a $350 million casino resort, Sugarcane Bay, beside L’Auberge at a similar site to Lee’s new project. Lee left Pinnacle, where he was chairman and CEO, in November 2009.

Penn, the owner of 23 casinos and racetracks, had proposed a suburban New Orleans riverboat which would have been located about three miles from Pinnacle’s Boomtown casino. Louisiana businessman William Trotter’s St. Gabriel Downs LLC had proposed a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Lake Charles.

Pinnacle fell as much as 9.6 percent after the decision, and was down 3.9 percent to $13.62 at 12:27 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Penn fell as much as 2 percent, and was about 1 percent lower at $36.21 at 12:28 p.m. in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

To contact the reporter on this story: Beth Jinks in New York at bjinks1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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