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Ameristar buys Mountain High, largest casino in Colorado

[12/23/04]Las Vegas-based Ameristar Casinos Inc., announced the purchase Wednesday of the Mountain High Casino in Black Hawk, Colo., the largest casino in that state.

Ameristar operates seven casinos across the country including property in Vicksburg. The Colorado casino was acquired from Windsor Woodmont Black Hawk Resort Corp., which was operating as debtor-in-possession in a Chapter 11 case before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado.

The purchase price was approximately $117 million in cash, plus the issuance of 58,943 shares of Ameristar’s common stock valued at $2.5 million. Ameristar also announced plans to invest about $90 million in improvements at the property before reopening next year under the name Ameristar Black Hawk

“We are excited that the Ameristar family just got bigger, and our new Black Hawk, Colo., casino is another option for all guests seeking the quality they have come to expect from the Ameristar name. This acquisition is a further step to solidify Ameristar’s reputation as a national gaming leader,” said Ray Neilsen, general manager, who lives in Vicksburg where the company opened its first casino development outside Nevada.

Improvements planned for the Black Hawk property include reconfiguring and expanding the gaming area, introducing cashless slot technology and other gaming equipment upgrades, constructing a 300-room, AAA, Four Diamond-quality hotel and additional covered parking, upgrading the food and beverage outlets and adding a casual dining restaurant. All of these improvements are expected to be completed during 2005, with the exception of the hotel, which is expected to be completed by early 2007.

“We are excited to complete the acquisition of Mountain High Casino,” said Craig H. Neilsen, chairman and CEO of Ameristar. “Mountain High is a high-quality property with an excellent location in one of the major gaming markets in the United States . We are eager to begin our enhancement and expansion plans for the property immediately. The acquisition will not impact our ability to continue our cash dividend policy or to pursue other development opportunities.”

Mountain High Casino is in the center of the Black Hawk gaming district, approximately 40 miles west of Denver. The 425,000 square-foot facility includes a 57,000 square-foot casino with approximately 1,000 slot machines and 24 table games, including poker. In addition, the property features a steak and seafood restaurant, a buffet and food court, a 5,000 square-foot entertainment showroom that seats approximately 500 people and a parking garage with space for approximately 800 vehicles, among other amenities.