Pinnacle puts AC casino on 'indefinite hold'

Nov 7, 2008 11:43 PM

by GT Staff |

Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. announced earlier this week that it has put plans for its $1.5 billion mega-resort in Atlantic City on "indefinite hold" while it waits out the sluggish economy, the PressofAtlanticCity.com reports.

Dan Lee, chairman and CEO of Pinnacle Entertainment said of his company’s vacant property overlooking the Boardwalk, "We may be sitting there for a very long period of time."

Because of the global credit crisis, Pinnacle said previously it was delaying construction of the mega-resort until at least 2009 or 2010. But that earlier thinking seems even more uncertain now as the company said Thursday that things "are on indefinite hold due to credit conditions and an evolving competitive environment."

CEO Lee said that Atlantic City and New Jersey is now facing intense competition from surrounding states like Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland all of whom are moving forward

Speaking to gaming analysts on a conference call, Lee warned that his company may put the Atlantic City project on hold "for years and years and years: if conditions continue to remain unfavorable.

"It’s pretty clear that the country’s in a recession" Lee commented.

And even if credit markets begin to loosen up a bit, Pinnacle will proceed with caution on the project.

"I think even if we could get the money today, we would put it on hold, watching what’s going on in the environment," commented Lee.

Pinnacle is hoping to develop the project on the former site of the Sands Casino Hotel. The Sands was imploded by the company on the site in October 2007 and construction was scheduled to begin in 2008. Months later, the credit markets flat lined and then the economy worsened.

Lee said Pinnacle is now content to "just sit" for now and see how the economy goes. "We recognize that this isn’t an environment to dream big," he added.

The company has assembled around 20 acres of land including the site of the old Sands. One of Pinnacle’s options is to sell the property.

"Obviously, if somebody made us a decent offer for the land we’d consider selling it," Lee said.