Ameristar Casinos CEO Gordon K. Kanofsky speaks Wednesday after the company marked the beginning of construction on its $500 million casino resort in Lake Charles with a ground-breaking ceremony. (Eric Cormier / American Press)
(Eric Cormier / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, July 19, 2012 12:31 PMA bulldozer pushed dirt around Wednesday morning, marking the start of Ameristar Casino’s construction on a $500 million casino-resort in Lake Charles.
Work started a little more than two years after Pinnacle Entertainment scrapped plans to build Sugarcane Bay. That was followed by former Pinnacle CEO and Las Vegas businessman Dan Lee’s obtaining of a Louisiana riverboat gambling license with the intent of building what was to be called Mojito Pointe.
Ameristar purchased Lee’s company, Creative Casinos, after he encountered financing difficulties, and it was granted a gambling license by state regulators to build a casino-resort.
When completed, Ameristar’s new property will look similar to Lee’s project.
Company officials gathered with local and state dignitaries for the official groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site behind Sam’s Club, near Interstate 210.
Gordon Kanofsky, Ameristar CEO, said that when construction work is finished in 2014, Ameristar Casino Resort Spa in Lake Charles will be a premier destination.
“We like to under-promise and over-deliver,” he said. “We are going to get it done.”
The casino-resort — which is being built on 242 acres of land next to Pinnacle’s L’Auberge — will include 1,600 slot machines and 60 table games; a luxury hotel with 700 guest rooms and 70 suites; bars and restaurants; an 18-hole golf course; tennis club; swimming pools; and a spa.
Kanofsky said the company does well in regional markets like Lake Charles. He complimented local and state officials for their assistance in helping to move the project forward from regulatory permits to land deal negotiations.
“This truly has been one of the easiest paths forward. This is a community that gets things done,” he said.
Robert Jones, a member of the state’s Gaming Control Board, said Ameristar is a good company.
He explained to onlookers that the company passed an extensive background check by state police. After that, gambling regulators found the company worthy of being granted a riverboat license.
Harry Hank, president of the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District’s board of commissioners, said the start of construction was a landmark moment for the region.
“When work is completed and the resort is fully operational, I am confident we will have the premier gaming resort area in the country,” he said.
Ameristar reportedly has 7,500 employees among eight properties and generates $1 billion a year.