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Pinnacle's boat move assured

Nov 25, 2008 5:07 PM

Industry Insider by Ray Poirier | Ask and you shall receive!

That was the message sent by the Missouri Gaming Commission last week to the heads of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (PNK) relative to the company’s plans to relocate President Casino riverboat to a new spot on the Mississippi River in St. Louis.

"I think the Gaming Commission agrees that the boat is old, the hull is not good. So, if Pinnacle decided to file an application we would move as quickly as possible to move the President," a spokesman said.

Pinnacle officials have indicated an interest in moving the financially troubled President away from downtown St. Louis to a spot near the Chain of Rocks Bridge on the city’s far north side. Spokesman Mack Bradley said Pinnacle has not yet made a formal application to move but plans to approach state regulators soon.

The President sits on the riverboat long known as the Admiral, which used to take excursion cruises up and down the river. The three-deck boat is outdated as a casino on one level, and no longer sits directly on the river.

Pinnacle Entertainment already dominates the site where the President is located. Last December, Pinnacle opened its $507 million Lumiere Place casino and hotel complex at the Laclede’s Landing area of downtown, just a few hundred feet from where the President sits, not far from the famed Gateway Arch. Just across the river, the new Casino Queen casino opened last year in East St. Louis, Illinois.

"Our hope," said Bradley, "is we’ll get a better location, see how the market develops."

The potential move already has impressed gaming analysts. On Monday, analysts at Brean Murray Co. initiated coverage of PNK shares with a "buy" rating.