Plans to swap the Belle of Baton Rouge for the larger Amelia Belle in St. Mary Parish are off the table, the Belle of Baton Rouge says. St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin says officials at Tropicana Casinos and Resorts, the Belle’s parent company, have told him they were concerned about competition from the planned Pinnacle casino resort in Baton Rouge and encouraged by rising revenue in Amelia.
Pinnacle will request a 90-day extension on its next deadline for their River Road project at the Gaming Control Board’s Feb. 17 meeting, citing the global credit crunch. Pinnacle would have been required to submit construction contracts this month. Alan Silver, director of casino resort studies with Tulane University, says a number of gambling operators worldwide are holding off on new projects because of weak capital markets and lower revenue at their existing properties, and the situation isn’t likely to improve in 90 days. “A lot of experts think it’s going to get worse,” Silver says. Which means Pinnacle could be back asking for another extension in a few months.
Despite the credit crunch, regional casino operators such as Pinnacle and Penn National Gaming, the parent company of Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge, are actually doing fairly well compared with Las Vegas casino companies, the Wall Street Journal notes. Analysts say while people are leery of spending a lot of money on jaunts to Las Vegas, they are willing to drive to regional casinos—especially now that gas prices are down.—David Jacobs