Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pinnacle Steps Up with Purchase of Ameristar Casino; the Regional Casino Company Would Become a Major Player

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pinnacle Steps Up with Purchase of Ameristar Casino; the Regional Casino Company Would Become a Major Player

Article excerpt

Within the U.S. gambling industry, Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. has been considered a regional player, with only seven casinos and a racetrack.

That changed Friday, when Pinnacle announced a $2.8 billion deal to buy rival Ameristar Casinos Inc. The transaction would double Pinnacle's size as well as make the Las Vegas-based casino owner the dominant operator in St. Louis and Missouri.

If regulators approve the deal, Pinnacle will own River City in south St. Louis County, Ameristar in St. Charles and the glitzy Lumire Place casino and Four Seasons Hotel complex on the St. Louis riverfront.

Combined, the three locations take in more than half of the winnings among the six casinos in the St. Louis area's billion- dollar gaming market. Including the Ameristar casino in Kansas City, the deal also makes Pinnacle the top dog in Missouri, with four of the five largest casinos.

Anthony Sanfi lippo, Pinnacle's president and chief executive, said in a statement that buying Ameristar, also based in Las Vegas, is "a transformative transaction" for the company.

"The coupling of Pinnacle and Ameristar properties will create a terrific portfolio of quality assets to serve our combined guests," he said.

Neil Walko , Pinnacle's executive vice president in charge of operations in St. Louis, Indiana and Ohio, said the deal provides long-term value for shareholders.

"It's very exciting for our company," he told the Post-Dispatch. "When we look to grow our company, we look for companies with similar values and culture." Pinnacle hopes to complete the purchase in the second half of 2013. The company said it expects the deal to produce annual savings of at least $40 million.

Walko said no decisions will be made right away about possible changes in operation, employment or management of the Ameristar casinos.

The Missouri Gaming Commission is among the regulatory bodies that will consider Pinnacle's purchase of Ameristar. LeAnn McCarthy, the agency's spokeswoman, said commissioners will give the deal the same consideration as other transactions.

However, she declined to speculate on any decisions the commission might make. …

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