BATON ROUGE, LA-The Louisiana Gaming Control Board has approved Pinnacle Entertainment Inc.’s request to transfer its casino license from Lake Charles to its proposed $250-million Casino Riviere. The 550-acre gaming resort and residences does require additional approvals, including a local referendum.

The Baton Rouge Metro Council will now set a date for the referendum balloting. In a press release, Pinnacle chairman and CEO Daniel R. Lee says the company is hoping the issue will be placed on the February 2008 ballot. If voters approve, Pinnacle executives say the resort, which will be located at River Road and Gardere Lane, could open as early as 2010.

Pinnacle has other hurdles to clear before dirt can be turned. The Las Vegas-based casino operator and developer is still in negotiations with a landowner, who owns one-sixth interest of a 58-acre levee batture along the river where the casino would be constructed. If negotiations break down, both parties may have to go to court to resolve the issue. Additionally, Metro Council voted several days ago to file suit against Pinnacle to obtain an economic impact study that was submitted to the Louisiana Gaming Board.

Pinnacle’s plans for the project include a 140,000-sf riverboat casino, 100-room hotel and mixed-use recreational and residential developments. Based on Pinnacle’s calculations, the project will create 1,100 direct jobs and a $33-million payroll.

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