15th gaming license up for grabs - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

15th gaming license up for grabs

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - With Sugarcane Bay being scrapped, the state's fifteenth gaming license is back on the market, and up for grabs.

When Hurricane Rita wiped out Harrah's Casino, it decided to get out of the lake area. One local business group challenged Pinnacle Entertainment for that license.

"The first thing we had to show was could we get the money to do it," said Chester Jones with the Alliance for Local Development and Recovery.

According to Jones, they did get the money. The Alliance For Local Development and Recovery offered Harrah's 77-million dollars for the license, but in the end, Pinnacle Entertainment came out on top with their proposed Sugarcane Bay project. Four years, and 80-million dollars later Pinnacle has backed out. According to Chester Jones the gaming control board said they are next in line.

"They said if the referendum did not pass and they did not perform, then those license would be then given to us," said Jones.

The group said, to get a new project off the ground, it would take the cooperation of the community, and the city of Lake Charles.

"If a licensee is approved by the gaming board, for a license in Lake Charles, or anywhere in Calcasieu Parish, we're going to work with them," said Lake Charles Mayor, Randy Roach.

There is a constant open dialogue between Pinnacle and the City of Lake Charles, about turning the old Harrah's property over to they city. Meaning, if someone were to try and keep that fifteenth license in southwest Louisiana, the old Harrah's location would probably be off limits.

"With all probability it would be restricted. It would not be available for gaming," said Mayor Roach.

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