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Casino Developer, Dan Lee, Reaches Settlement With Pinnacle Entertainment, Focus
Shifts to Financing of $450 million Mojito Pointe Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana

By Steve Green, Las Vegas SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

April 26, 2011--Having settled litigation with Pinnacle Entertainment Inc., Las Vegas-based casino developer Dan Lee said Tuesday he's waiting for the Texas Legislature to wrap up its session before seeking financing for his new resort in Louisiana.

Lee said it's doubtful Texas legislators will approve casino gambling on a large scale, which could affect the prospects for his new resort. But just in case, he's waiting a few weeks for legislators to adjourn before approaching financing sources for his $450 million Mojito Pointe resort in Lake Charles, La.

The $450 million figure includes $50 million in construction-period interest for the resort that would break ground this fall and open two years from now.

Earlier Tuesday, Las Vegas-based Pinnacle and Lee's company, Creative Casinos LLC; along with the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District; announced global settlements of lawsuits.

One suit in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas pitted Pinnacle against Lee and involved allegations Lee had violated his separation agreement in developing Mojito Pointe and countercharges Pinnacle was wrongfully interfering with those plans.

Another suit was in Louisiana involving the harbor and terminal district, known as the port, which is the landlord for Pinnacle's L'Auberge du Lac resort and Lee's adjacent Mojito Pointe development. That suit involved some of the land the port planned to lease to Lee's company.

With the litigation settled, Pinnacle Entertainment and Creative Casinos will create and jointly operate festival grounds on shared acreage between the L'Auberge du Lac and Mojito Pointe sites, their announcement said. The land will be available for entertainment and community events and -- along with a customer roadway and pedestrian walkway -- will connect the two resorts.

Lee said in an interview Tuesday that he had met with Pinnacle CEO Anthony Sanfilippo and partly because Sanfilippo joined Pinnacle after Lee's departure, the talks were not weighed down by previous disputes involving Lee and Pinnacle.

The two sides agreed to compete, yet cooperate, Lee said.

"It will allow us to market Lake Charles as a destination," Lee said, adding specific terms of the settlements were subject to a confidentiality clause.

In February, Lee's company was selected to receive Louisiana's 15th and final gaming license after Pinnacle abandoned plans to develop the Sugarcane Bay resort in Lake Charles. Lee had championed Sugarcane Bay before leaving Pinnacle.

"Resolution of these issues will allow Lake Charles to improve its position as the South's leading gaming resort destination," Sanfilippo said in a statement. "The region continues to show economic growth and this agreement ensures that L'Auberge will continue to be at the heart of it."


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