Gaming license up for grabs

Reported By: Theresa Schmidt

BATON ROUGE, LA (KPLC) - The riverboat gaming license once held by Pinnacle for Sugarcane Bay is now officially up for grabs. In Baton Rouge this morning the Louisiana Gaming Control Board agreed to take applications for the license.

The board had solicited letters of interest from those who might want to make a pitch for the riverboat license Pinnacle has given up-- and after several responses decided to take up the issue.. Chester Jones of Tomorrow Investors of Lake Charles told the board his group would spend between $400 and $500 million on their Lake Charles project. " We have the monies to build a first class facility that's going to grow the market in Calcasieu Parish. We don't want to come in and build something that's not matching up to what's already there. It would be unfair to L'auberge . It would be unfair to our parish. So, we're going to build a first rate facility and grow the market."

As expected the board agreed to open up the application process. Board member Bob Jones of Lake Charles says this area has an edge since voters have already approved a site.  "It can go anywhere in the state where it's been approved. It doesn't necessarily have to come to Lake Charles. Lake Charles sort of has an advantage in that the people of the parish already voted on that site and the general thinking is that there would not have to be another vote. Any other place in the state there'd have to be another vote, so we're kind of one step ahead of the rest of the state in that regard."

Before today the board received letters of interest from three companies but anybody can submit an application now that they've opened it up. The board will take applications until September 23rd. Then they'll schedule applicants to make public presentations to the board.

The three companies that have publicly expressed interest in applying for the license are tomorrow investors of Lake Charles, St. Gabriel Downs of Lafayette, both of which say they would locate in Calcasieu parish; and Peninsula Gaming of Dubuque,  Iowa which has not said what parish or berth site.

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