*Missouri to recommend casino stop operating-letter
*Company seeks stay of proceedings (Adds company, analyst comment)
ATLANTA, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment Inc PNK.N said it has been notified that Missouri regulators plan to recommend that the license for the company's President Casino be revoked and the business stop operating on July 1.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, Pinnacle said it received a letter from the executive director of the Missouri Gaming Commission on Jan. 21, that said the agency’s staff will recommend the revocation of the casino’s license at a meeting on Jan. 27.
“The letter stated that the (commission) is no longer able to allow licensure of what it believes to be an obsolete and underachieving gaming facility,” the Pinnacle filing said.
Las Vegas-based Pinnacle also said that on Jan. 22, it filed a petition with the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, seeking a stay of the state gambling commission’s proceedings.
“We will pursue all legal remedies to protect our license,” Jack Godfrey, executive vice president and general counsel of Pinnacle Entertainment, said in a statement on Monday.
The company’s filing said the commission’s decision does not affect Lumiere Place or the River City facility in St. Louis County that is expected to open in March.
The President Casino is located in St. Louis on the Admiral Riverboat. In October, Pinnacle said it would repair the hull of the riverboat to qualify for an extension of certification by the American Bureau of Shipping, which was set to expire in July 2010.
Research firm Union Gaming said the move by the Missouri commission was not a surprise considering its decision last fall rejecting a request from Pinnacle to either replace and/or move the President Casino.
“With the President Casino (Admiral riverboat) not expected to pass a July 2010 Coast Guard inspection, it had been widely assumed that Pinnacle would lose the license at that time, at which point the (Missouri commission) could reissue it at a new location,” Union Gaming analyst Bill Lerner said in a note.
He added that the President Casino has been a drag on Pinnacle earnings “for years.”
Pinnacle Entertainment’s shares were flat at $8.47 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Karen Jacobs, editing by Maureen Bavdek)
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