Making the News

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Originally Published:Wednesday, July 24, 2013
http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/lumiere-sale-near-pinnacle-entertainment-chief-says/article_8fa853b9-81b1-5a04-b002-9a8505650cfe.html
Rob Heller, chief executive of Spectrum Gaming Capital, a gaming industry consulting firm in New York, said various regional gaming companies might be in the hunt for Lumière Place.
A Las Vegas heavyweight, MGM Resorts International, also could have Lumière Place in mind as a high-end property in the Midwest, Heller said.

Lumiere sale near, Pinnacle Entertainment chief says

By Tim Bryant
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Pinnacle Entertainment is close to selling its glitzy Lumière Place casino complex on the St. Louis riverfront. A deal could be reached in about two weeks, according to Pinnacle Chief Executive Anthony Sanfilippo. The Las Vegas-based casino operator is discussing the sale with “multiple” potential buyers of the Lumière casino, the adjoining luxury Four Seasons hotel and the nearby hotel HoteLumière, Sanfilippo said in an interview Wednesday. A sale of the entire property as a single package is likely, the CEO said, adding that he expects that the new owner will continue to operate the complex's luxury hotel under the Four Seasons flag. Sanfilippo declined to identify potential buyers, but said Pinnacle could continue to operate Lumière Place for several months until the sale to a new owner is completed. He also expects the new Lumière owner to adhere to Pinnacle's agreements to help fund Gateway Arch grounds improvements and the National Blues Museum downtown as part of its redevelopment agreement with the city. Pinnacle put Lumière Place up for sale after reaching a deal with antitrust regulators who had threatened to block the company's $2.8 billion acquisition of rival Ameristar Casinos. By taking over Ameristar and its St. Charles casino, Pinnacle would have three local casinos and hold nearly 60 percent of the $1 billion St. Louis gaming market, according to the Federal Trade Commission. As a condition of its approval of the deal, the FTC required Pinnacle last month to sell a local casino — which the casino operator decided would be Lumière — and an Ameristar project under construction near Pinnacle's casino complex in Lake Charles, La. Without Lumière, Pinnacle will have about 40 percent of the St. Louis market. Completion of the Ameristar deal drew closer Wednesday when the Missouri Gaming Commission voted 4-0 to approve the change of control to Pinnacle of the Ameristar casinos in St. Charles and Kansas City. Missouri is the final state to approve measures required as part of Ameristar deal. However, an agreement to sell Lumière Place will require separate regulatory action by the state gambling commission. Ed Grewach, the commission's general counsel, said the new owner would have to apply for the Missouri gaming license now held by Pinnacle to operate Lumière. Gaming commissioners approved the Ameristar takeover after getting a lengthy presentation from Sanfilippo and other Pinnacle officials on how the acquisition would affect Missouri's casino industry. The answer, Sanfilippo told commissioners, is not much. Pinnacle will sell Lumière Place but continue to operate its River City complex in Lemay as well as the Ameristar casino in St. Charles. The Pinnacle CEO told commissioners meeting at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel that existing casino management would remain largely in place and that the number of employees would be unchanged at its two remaining local casinos. Cutbacks — or synergies, as Sanfillipo put it — would occur at the headquarters of the Las Vegas-based gaming companies. With state regulators giving a green light to the deal, Pinnacle now hopes to complete the Ameristar acquisition in early August. The sale of Lumière is “bittersweet,” said Sanfillippo, adding that the company would prefer to keep all its existing Pinnacle casinos in Missouri. Rob Heller, chief executive of Spectrum Gaming Capital, a gaming industry consulting firm in New York, said various regional gaming companies might be in the hunt for Lumière Place. A Las Vegas heavyweight, MGM Resorts International, also could have Lumière Place in mind as a high-end property in the Midwest, Heller said. “I could see that MGM might take a run at it,” he said. MGM's spokesman, Clark Dumont, said that the company already has plenty of projects. “We are already very busy and focused on our development activities in Las Vegas, Springfield, Mass., Prince Georges County, Md., and Cotai, China,” he said.
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