Dan Lee fights for Louisiana's last gaming license

By Adam Hooper - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - He is one of three looking to get his hands on the state's last gaming license. Dan Lee said he plans to make good on a promise he made to Louisiana, but it is clear it will not be without a fight. Back in November, 2009 Lee was forced to resign as CEO of Pinnacle Entertainment.

"Now, someone else is running it, and it tears at you a little bit. It's like seeing your ex-wife, or something. It bothers you," said Dan Lee.  

Shortly after Lee's departure Pinnacle decided to take the company in a different direction. They decided to scrap Sugarcane Bay, and give back the license. It was a project very important to Dan Lee.

"After I left Pinnacle, and I saw that they canceled Sugarcane Bay, that hurt," said Lee. "The Gaming commission announced that they were going to reissue the license. They made it very clear they would look for someone to build something of the scope and quality of Sugarcane Bay. I listened."

Lee is now vying for the same license he had once intended for Sugarcane Bay. He now plans to build Mojito Pointe right next door to L'Auberge du Lac. In response to Lee's efforts to build a new hotel and casino in Lake Charles, Pinnacle has filed law suits against him. Pinnacle said he violated his separation agreement, by using inside information, to gain the rights to the land. Pinnacle has also file litigation against the Port of Lake Charles, stating they violated their land lease agreement. Lee believes it is an attempt to stifle competition.

"The growth in Houston allows us to build Mojito Pointe, and not lay a glove on L'Auberge. They will be fine. In fact, we'll be synergistic. We'll be next door," said Dan Lee

William Trotter, with Saint Gabriel Downs, wants to use the fifteenth gaming license to bring a Hard Rock hotel and casino to the Lake Charles lake front. Dan Lee believes it is a plan that will not pay off.

"The people who build casinos to appeal to the younger market, Hard Rock, Planet Hollywood, or the Palms, have uniformly failed. Those people don't gamble. They don't have the money. It's very simple," said Lee.

There is possibly some truth to that statement, right now as one lending company for Hard Rock has scheduled, for Tuesday, foreclosure proceedings to auction off the company's assets. William Trotter, with Saint Gabriel Downs, declined to give an interview. His attorney released the following statement.

"St. Gabriel Downs's proposal is for a casino reflecting a fun, energetic genre, like Hard Rock, that will be attractive to the market.  While Hard Rock's circumstances do not preclude such an arrangement, as we noted in the December Louisiana Gaming Control Board meeting, St. Gabriel Downs has at all times planned for alternative options, should Hard Rock not be available.  We are prepared accordingly, and Hard Rock's present situation should have no bearing on state licensing.  St. Gabriel Downs offers a most viable project, which has the necessary ingredients and excitement to be the "go to" casino on the Lake Charles lakefront."

                  -Deborah Harkins, Spokesperson for St. Gabriel Downs, LLC

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