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Ameristar Casinos Plans Major Expansion at Council Bluffs

Friday, June 01, 2007
LAS VEGAS -- Ameristar Casinos has announced a proposed approximately $100 million expansion project at the Company's Council Bluffs property. The Company will make a formal presentation on the projectAmeristar Council Bluffs Casino will be undergoing a significant expansion if Iowa regulators go along with the plan.
Ameristar Council Bluffs Casino will be undergoing a significant expansion if Iowa regulators go along with the plan.
  to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) at the IRGC's June 7 meeting.
The expansion will add a total of 60,000 square feet to the existing facility, and will double the current casino floor square footage by incorporating an additional 38,500 square feet of new gaming space with approximately 600 new slot machines and 20 additional table games, including a poker room. The expanded portion of the casino floor will be located on a single level, creating better access and convenience for guests. In addition, the expansion will result in a more spacious and comfortable experience for guests, since the Company intends to double the casino square footage, but not the number of machines or table games.
The expansion also will feature an elaborate central bar area and two additional bars, a deli restaurant, a new 1,000-space parking garage and an upscale Star Club VIP lounge. Access to the casino will be improved with an additional garage entrance, an enhanced connector from the existing garage and better access from the existing streetscape.
"This proposal demonstrates Ameristar's continuing commitment to provide the best amenities and highest quality facilities, which along with our team members create the best-in-market casino experiences for our guests," said John Boushy, Ameristar CEO and President. "Our Council Bluffs property has performed exceptionally well, improving its EBITDA and operating margins since the second quarter of 2006 in the face of a larger competitive facility."
Boushy went on to say, "We believe our Council Bluffs property has additional growth opportunities. The latent market growth, coupled with the creative and innovative way the expansion engages and utilizes the existing vessel will generate a good return for our shareholders. We are confident this project can help us reduce capacity constraints during peak periods and increase revenues for our property and for the market overall. In addition, we expect that the project will drive increased visitation to the market and provide additional tax revenues."
Ameristar's proposal to invest in our successful Council Bluffs property demonstrates our determination to double Ameristar's EBITDA in the next three to five years through a 50-50 growth strategy. The Company expects approximately half of that EBITDA growth will come through acquisitions such as the recently announced agreement to purchase Resorts East Chicago, and the other half will come through capital improvement projects at existing properties like Council Bluffs.
Ameristar has the ability to fully fund this expansion within its existing capital structure. Subject to the receipt of necessary regulatory approvals, the Company expects the Council Bluffs expansion to be completed in mid-2009.
Teresa Meyer, Council Bluffs General Manager, said, "Ameristar is committed to the highest standards of design and construction and our expansion at Council Bluffs will be no exception. Since opening Ameristar Council Bluffs in 1996, we have reinvested more than $80 million in the facility, creating the only casino-hotel in Iowa to hold the American Automobile Association (AAA) Four Diamond designation. The property also currently boasts four restaurants, four bars, meeting space and an indoor swimming pool. Now with the proposed casino expansion, improved access and more parking spaces, we are confident this project will significantly enhance the guest experience."
The exterior of the facility will retain its existing character, with an architectural design reminiscent of a gateway river town. In its entirety, Ameristar Council Bluffs will resemble a riverboat docked at an historic building.
The Company will construct a new coffer dam to enclose the basin in which the existing casino facility rests. The coffer dam will allow for the control of water levels within the basin and stabilize the level of the vessel in relation to its landside facility.
Meyer said, "The proposal's unique design will utilize the existing vessel with the platform addition, thereby doubling the property's gaming space. By building the single level gaming expansion that surrounds the existing vessel, guests will have dramatic sight lines of the entire new casino and have multiple levels to view the action and excitement of the casino experiences."
Meyer noted that the expansion will create roughly 175 jobs for local construction workers over an 18-month period, and she expects to hire about 100 additional employees to staff the expanded facility.
The Iowa West Racing Association (IWRA) is the sponsoring organization for Ameristar's proposal in Council Bluffs. If approved, the casino expansion is expected to continue to ensure funding that will support the Iowa West Foundation, the association's charitable arm that assists the community in areas such as education, human and social needs and community and economic development.
Ameristar Casinos Inc.
3773 Howard Hughes Parkway
Suite 490 South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Phone: (702) 567-7000
Fax: (702) 755-2737
Website: www.ameristarcasinos.com
Ameristar Casinos, Inc. is an innovative, Las Vegas-based gaming entertainment company known for its distinctive hotel casinos and good value. The company's roots go back nearly five decades to a tiny roadside casino in the high-plateau country that borders Idaho and Nevada. Publicly held since November 1993, the corporation owns and operates six properties in Nevada, Missouri, Iowa and Mississippi.
Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs
2200 River Road
Council Bluffs, IA 51501
Phone: 712.328.8888
Toll Free Phone: 877.462.7827
Featuring more than 1,500 of the latest and most popular slot and video poker machines, Ameristar Council Bluffs is the area's slot leader. Among the games offered are over 100 video poker machines, more than 700 video slots, and more than 50 multi-game video machines. When you add in more than 550 traditional reel slots and nearly 100 system specialty machines, it's easy to see why Ameristar has 'More Casino. More Fun.'
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