Pinnacle Entertainment sells St. Louis-area casino to Carl Icahn-controlled entity

Pinnacle Entertainment sold one of the company’s three St. Louis-area casinos Friday to a gaming operator controlled by takeover artist Carl Icahn.

The transaction was part of Pinnacle’s stipulated agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to complete its $2.8 billion buyout of Ameristar Casinos. That transaction closed Wednesday.

Pinnacle sold Lumiere Place in downtown St. Louis and several adjacent hotel land parcels for $260 million to Tropicana Entertainment. The company operates eight casinos, including the Tropicana Atlantic City, the Tropicana Laughlin and the MontBleau in Lake Tahoe.

The transaction requires FTC approval, as well as approval from Missouri gaming regulators.

In order to close the Ameristar purchase, the FTC required Pinnacle to part ways with Lumiere Place and Ameristar’s development project in Lake Charles, La., to avoid any antitrust issues.

Pinnacle reached an agreement in July to sell the Lake Charles property to Golden Nugget Casinos, a division of Houston-based Landry’s Inc.

Pinnacle Chief Executive Officer Anthony Sanfilippo said in a statement the transactions allow Pinnacle to use the proceeds to repay debt and reduce the company’s leverage.

Golden Nugget will pay for all the development costs spent on Ameristar Lake Charles, up until the closing date of the sale. Golden Nugget also will assume all of the outstanding costs owed on the development at that time. The deal also includes a $37 million credit to Golden Nugget.

Ameristar said it spent $213.9 million on the project as of June 30. The project had a budget of $580 million.

Pinnacle, which now owns 15 casinos in nine states following the Ameristar acquisition, still owns its flagship L’Auberge Lake Charles and two casinos in St. Louis, the suburban River City and Ameristar St. Charles.

Tropicana Entertainment is not affiliated with the Tropicana Las Vegas.

Icahn owns the stalled Fountainebleau Las Vegas on the Strip, which is separate from Tropicana Entertainment. Icahn purchased the unfinished hotel-casino out of bankruptcy in 2010 and never restarted construction.

“We are happy that Tropicana, which Icahn Enterprises purchased out of bankruptcy only three years ago, is now profitable and will have expanded to nine casino properties,” Icahn said in a statement. “We hope to continue to make judicious acquisitions in the future.”

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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