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Pinnacle Entertainment closes deal for Cincinnati racetrack

Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment closed its $45 million purchase of a racetrack in southeast Cincinnati last week.

The regional casino operator hopes Ohio will eventually authorize slot machines at racetracks, which would allow Pinnacle to build out a casino at the facility.

“(The) location is expected to complement our existing Belterra Casino Resort, less than one hour away (in Northern Indiana),” Pinnacle Chief Executive Officer Anthony Sanfilippo said in a statement.

Although Pinnacle has shored up business in the Midwest, the company’s flagship casino in Lake Charles, La., faces new competition.

The Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder, La., about 35 miles north of Lake Charles, began building a $60 million hotel tower that will give the property 950 rooms by next year. The casino has 2,800 slot machines and 70 table games.

The casino, operated by the Coushatta Indian Tribe, aims to compete with L’Auberge du Lac, Pinnacle’s 1,000-room hotel-casino in Lake Charles, which accounts for more than one-third of the company’s annual cash flow.

L’Auberge relies on the Houston market, about 143 miles west, for most of its customers. Because Coushatta also hopes to tap Houston for customers, analysts believe Pinnacle’s earnings could suffer.

The state is expected to award the license to one of three companies, two of which plan to keep the license in Lake Charles. Penn National Gaming told state regulators it would take the license to New Orleans and build a casino that would compete with Pinnacle’s Boomtown New Orleans.

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