Port, Pinnacle, Creative announce settlement of litigation

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Port of Lake Charles announced Tuesday morning along with Pinnacle Entertainment and Creative Casinos how outstanding litigation had been settled amongst the parties. The agreement resolves a property dispute that was the subject of a November 2010 lawsuit.

The agreement was agreed to late Monday.

According to the release issued, Pinnacle and Creative would create and jointly operate an area to be used for entertainment and community events. A customer roadway and pedestrian walkway would also connect the two resorts.

A land swap between Pinnacle and the port would allow Pinnacle to improve access to L'Auberge and would allow Creative to facilitate public access to its resort, if approved by voters on Saturday.

Port Director Bill Rase said there was never any doubt about the "land swap" agreement. Rase said the proposal regarding the 15 acres in question would have moved forward regardless of any resolutions between the parties.

The property was designated for a parking lot adjacent to L'Auberge du Lac Casino Resort.

Last year, the port agreed to lease to Creative Casinos that property for its Mojito Pointe project. Pinnacle Entertainment claimed in its lawsuit that the fifteen acres were among the fifty acres it purchased from the port.

If you would like to read the release in its entirety, see below.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The following is a news release from the Port of Lake Charles, Pinnacle Entertainment and Creative Casinos:


LAS VEGAS, NV and LAKE CHARLES, LA, April 26, 2011 – Pinnacle Entertainment (NYSE: PNK), Creative Casinos LLC, and the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District announced today a comprehensive settlement agreement that will resolve all litigation between the parties and lays the foundation for Lake Charles to become the preeminent casino resort destination in the South.

Pinnacle Entertainment owns and operates L'Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles, the leading casino resort in Louisiana, offering 1,000 spacious rooms and suites, an exciting full-service casino, meeting space, a world-class salon and spa, a Tom Fazio-designed golf course and other amenities including a 1,400-seat entertainment venue and ten innovative dining outlets.  Creative Casinos was recently selected by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board to develop Mojito Pointe, a 400-room casino hotel on a site adjacent to L'Auberge.  The District is a state agency charged with fostering economic development in Southwest Louisiana, and also leases to Pinnacle and Creative the combined 500-acre site that L'Auberge occupies and Mojito Pointe plans to develop.

As part of the agreement, Pinnacle Entertainment and Creative Casinos have agreed to create and jointly operate festival grounds on shared acreage between the L'Auberge du Lac and Mojito Pointe sites.  The festival grounds will be available for entertainment and community events and, along with a customer roadway and pedestrian walkway, will connect the two resorts.

The District is also exchanging land that it owns at the entrance of L'Auberge du Lac for land owned by Pinnacle along the Interstate 210 corridor.  In addition to allowing Pinnacle to improve access to L'Auberge, the land exchange allows Creative to facilitate public access to its resort and helps both companies improve the transportation network of the community.  Some of the land will also be used for the Mojito Pointe golf course.

"Resolution of these issues will allow Lake Charles to improve its position as the South's leading gaming resort destination," stated Pinnacle Entertainment President and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Sanfilippo.  "The region continues to show economic growth and this agreement ensures that L'Auberge will continue to be at the heart of it."

"We're committed to making Mojito Pointe a world-class casino resort that will complement the L'Auberge experience, making Lake Charles itself a must-visit gaming destination," stated Daniel R. Lee, Managing Partner of Creative Casinos.   "The two resorts will be close enough to be accessed easily from one to the other and the intervening space will be used primarily for a park-like setting and an entertainment and event area.  We also look forward to working with Pinnacle to cooperatively expand Lake Charles's reputation as a leading resort and entertainment destination."

Construction of Mojito Pointe is expected to start later this year, pending voter approval, with completion in 2013.  The Mojito Pointe local referendum in Calcasieu Parish is scheduled for April 30.

"With this agreement, it is even more important that people in Calcasieu Parish vote on April 30," said Dan Lee.  "We hope to keep the region's economic momentum moving in the right direction and this agreement really helps us to create a destination that is very special."

About Pinnacle Entertainment

Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. owns and operates seven casinos, located in Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana and Nevada, and a racetrack in Ohio.  The Company is also developing a casino in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

About Creative Casinos

Creative Casinos is a privately-held company that was recently selected by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board to develop Mojito Pointe, a casino resort to be built in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

About the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District

The Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District (Port of Lake Charles) was created under Act 67 of the Louisiana Legislature of 1924.  Located on the Calcasieu Ship Channel in Southwest Louisiana, it is the twelfth largest Port District in the United States. To learn more about the Port of Lake Charles and the surrounding area, visit the Port's website at www.portlc.com.

All statements included in this press release, other than historical information or statements of historical fact, are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking statements, including statements about the ability of Pinnacle Entertainment, Creative Casinos and the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District to reach a final settlement and the potential for economic development, are subject to risks, uncertainties and changes in circumstances that could significantly affect future financial results and business. For more information on the potential factors that could affect Pinnacle's financial results and business, review Pinnacle's filings with the SEC, including, but not limited to, its Annual Report on Form 10-K, its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and its Current Reports on Form 8-K.