Gaming board OKs sale of Pinnacle

CEO of Penn National says no significant personnel changes planned

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Thursday approved Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming’s $2.8 billion acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment.

The deal, announced by both companies in December, will grow Penn National’s gambling properties from 29 to 41, including four Louisiana properties leased and operated by Pinnacle. They are L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, L’Auberge Casino and Hotel in Baton Rouge, Boomtown Casino and Hotel New Orleans, and Boomtown Casino and Hotel Bossier City.

Eric Schippers, Penn National’s senior vice president of public affairs, said in December that the deal would close during the second half of this year. It requires approval from gaming boards in all jurisdictions, with the Louisiana Gaming Board being the eighth to OK the purchase.

During the board meeting, Tim Wilmont, Penn National CEO, said the purchase will make the company “the largest regional gaming operator in the United States.”

“This transaction for the two companies is transformational,” he said. “We’re excited about the quality of the assets and the people that are part of Pinnacle Entertainment.”

Wilmont said Penn National had 15 properties when he joined the company in 2008. The acquisition, he said, will bring about $5 billion in annual revenue. 

There will be “no rebranding” of the L’Auberge or Boomtown properties, Wilmont said. He said company officials “don’t anticipate any significant personnel changes” at the four Louisiana properties during the merger.

Anthony Sanfilippo, Pinnacle Entertainment CEO, said Penn National “has been terrific” through the merger process.

“There’s not a better company that, if we’re turning the company over to, that I’d rather turn it over to than Penn National,” he said.

Part of the deal calls for Penn National to sell four Pinnacle properties — two in Missouri and one each in Indiana and Ohio — to Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp. for about $575 million in cash. Schippers said the sale was included because Penn National already has properties in those markets.

Pinnacle shareholders will get $20 in cash per share and 0.42 shares of Penn National per Pinnacle share. Wilmont said shareholders approved the acquisition in March.

The Gaming Control Board in April 2016 approved a deal allowing Pinnacle to sell and lease back several casinos to Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust company and an offshoot of Penn National. Included in the sale were the L’Auberge and Boomtown Casino properties. The deal between Pinnacle and GLPI requires Pinnacle to pay GLPI $377 million in annual rent to operate the gambling facilities.

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The Louisiana Gaming Control Board approved Penn National Gaming’s acquisition of L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, L’Auberge Casino and Hotel in Baton Rouge, Boomtown Casino and Hotel New Orleans, and Boomtown Casino and Hotel Bossier City

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