ts decision is expected to 17th of February. After the board awards a license, voters on April 30 would have to approve the addition of a casino before construction could start. All three companies met the suitability requirements for state licensing.
"We have done our homework, and I just wish we had three licenses to give," said Velma Rogers, vice chairwoman of the board.
St. Gabriel Downs, owned by Louisiana businessman William Trotter II, is seeking to build a US$167 million Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Lake Charles. Also proposed is a US$400 million casino called Mojito Pointe, by Creative Casinos, owned by former Pinnacle Entertainment chairman Daniel Lee.
In the New Orleans suburbs, Penn National Gaming, which operates 23 gambling houses around the country, including the Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge, is proposing the US$145 million Hollywood Casino in Harvey.
Company leaders on Wednesday reassured gambling board members that they could pull their financing together and explained why their projects were the best.
St. Gabriel Downs estimates its casino could open in May 2013, while Creative Casinos says Mojito Pointe could be complete by December of that year. Penn Gaming projects its Hollywood Casino would open by April 2012, because it will move an existing riverboat that had been used in Indiana to the Harvey site.
Board members asked St. Gabriel Downs whether a federal lawsuit involving the use of the Hard Rock name could create problems for licensing plans in Louisiana. Harkins and other St. Gabriel officials said they don't see the litigation undermining the brand and could choose another naming partner if problems arise.