Local move starting to keep Sugarcane Bay license

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KPLC) -So what happens next, now that Pinnacle has decided not to build Sugarcane Bay? There's a move now to keep that gaming license right where it is-- attached to port property already approved by calcasieu voters for gaming.

Now that Pinnacle Entertainment has canceled its plans to build a second riverboat casino-hotel project next to L'auberge-- there are many issues to resolve. The license has already been given back to the state.  Attorney Mike Dees, now serving as interim port director, he says the port will do all it can to make sure the license stays where it is-- attached to port property as approved by Calcasieu voters. "Certainly it's the only location that has been voter approved for gaming. So any other location in our area would require another local referendum which takes a great deal of time, money and expense."

George Swift with Southwest Louisiana economic development alliance agrees they should try to keep the license. "I do thing this presents an opportunity to retain the license here for another operation and I think the Port of Lake Charles has the property and the site that could be ready to go. Also if Pinnacle would donate the property on the lakefront to the City of Lake Charles this presents tremendous opportunities for development."

Dees whose been involved in developing gaming potential of port property for fifteen years now feels the market supports leaving the license here for the state to realize the greatest impact as far as taxes and jobs. "This market, particularly with its closeness to Texas, the Houston market with four million people, San Antonio, Austin, there is still tremendous potential for our area and really that is the best market in the state."

While Pinnacle still has a lease with the port for the land upon which Sugarcane Bay would have been located, Dees is hopeful a settlement can be reached so that the port can enter into a lease with some other developer.

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board meets next Tuesday in Baton Rouge-- then Pinnacle executives will meet with local lawmakers.

We'll have coverage of both meetings..

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