Issue 295
May 8 - May 12, 2006
Volume 6
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Casino City's May Sweepstakes

Sands Profits Now, Plans for Future

Nemacolin Proposal Receives Positive Response

Pinnacle Amends Merger Agreement with Aztar

Oregon Tribe Applies for Casino

Show Time Phil Vassar performs at Boulder Station's The Railhead.

Column Cherry Poker Confit by Mark Pilarski.

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Ameristar Casino Reveals $240 Million Expansion Details
Press Release

ST. CHARLES, Missouri – Ameristar Casino St. Charles has begun construction on a highly anticipated 25-story, 400-room all-suite hotel that will bring state-of-the-art amenities to the St. Charles riverfront. The hotel will pay homage to the historical architecture of the area with an impressive turn-of-the-century-style structure that exceeds the scale and scope of any previous project along the river.

Ameristar announced detailed plans for the hotel, including an outstanding selection of first-class in-suite amenities; an impressive indoor/outdoor pool including a distinctive landscape area; a tranquil and luxurious full-service spa; a new 2,350 space car parking garage, (increasing the total number of available spaces in the two parking garages to 6,100); and a 55,000 square-foot Conference and Meeting Center. The total cost of the construction is expected to be approximately $240 million, with the projected completion dates as follows: the second quarter of 2006 for the conference facilities; the fourth quarter of 2006 for the initial 1,400 spaces of the parking garage; and the end of 2007 for the hotel and remaining 950 spaces of the parking garage.

The distinctive design of the hotel and garage exterior was inspired by the architectural characteristics of the preserved buildings of St. Charles' historic Main Street and the newly-refurbished warehouse buildings of downtown St. Louis' Loft District. The grand hotel tower was painstakingly detailed to incorporate the time-worn quality of aged brick and decorative ornamental cast moldings indigenous to the historic structures of the area. Guestroom windows will mirror the reflective glow of night lights dancing across the nearby river.

Guests will enter the hotel from the property's main fountain area via an expansive glass-covered walkway that complements and expands on the existing iconic cobblestone streetscape. Upon reaching the hotel entrance, guests will be transported to a bygone era by an exquisitely-detailed grand canopy hand-forged from custom ironwork and glass.

Beyond the entrance, the hotel's sweeping two-story lobby will greet guests with scenic views of the Missouri River amid sophisticated luxury. The stunning contemporary but classic chocolate and red-toned décor incorporates plush draperies and premium leather furnishings in intimate seating groups framed by rich area rugs over marble flooring and lit by the glow of two striking fireplaces.

The all-suite hotel's 400 oversized rooms will offer some of the metropolitan area's most upscale accommodations. Designed to maximize enjoyment of the building's magnificent surroundings, all suites were designed with front bedroom entrances to showcase scenic views of the river and the city of St. Charles from the sunken living room area. All suites are dressed in a tailored warm palette of expresso, caramel, ivory and gold accented with cherry wood, emprador marble, inset frosted glass and satin nickel details. Custom furnishings include full height leather headboards, and create a comfortable haven featuring textural richness that focuses on line, color and form. A geometrically patterned marble stone floor greets guests at the entry. The luxurious amenities extend to the five-fixture bathrooms that include a whirlpool bathtub, a separate glass shower, matching vanities and an enclosed water closet as well as a LCD television screen. State-of-the-art amenities like high-speed wireless internet access and dual 42" plasma televisions in the living room and bedroom provide a technologically advanced environment.

Additionally, ten king spa suites will include a whirlpool bathtub situated within a window bay to take advantage of magnificent views, a dynamic wet bar and three 42" plasma televisions. The hotel's two Presidential Suites will further expand upon the plush amenities with high-end entertainment systems with surround sound and DVD players as well as three full bay windows each overlooking the river, gas-log fireplaces, a wet bar, a custom pool table and four 42" plasma televisions.

The property features an impressive indoor/outdoor pool, a unique pool deck and a distinctive landscaped area. Guests will be able to swim between the indoor and outdoor pools in two spectacular environments. Surrounded by tranquil fountains, the pool area also features both indoor and outdoor hot tubs. Adding to the lavish setting, the pool deck offers upscale chaise lounges, specialty seating areas and romantic fire pits. The expansive outdoor lawn area houses six cabanas with televisions and comfortable daybeds along with a meeting area for outside events.

Also on the pool level, the hotel's full-service spa -- WAV -- will pamper guests in a tranquil and relaxing water-themed environment featuring blue and green tones and ample architectural use of custom glass and water features. The 7,000 square-foot spa will offer a full menu of traditional and cutting-edge spa services in six private treatment rooms, including a dedicated facial room and a wet room reserved for scrubs and body washes. A full range of massage and facial treatments, eucalyptus steam rooms, massive whirlpools with waterfall features, dry sauna and a men's and women's lounge area are also available. The private women's lounge is bathed in natural light with one full-sized frosted glass wall adjacent to the pool deck. A retail boutique, a unique wave-shaped nail bar, comfortable custom pedicure banquettes, a relaxation dry lounge, complementary beverages and comfortable lounge furniture will complete the ultimate experience in tranquility for guests.

The 2,350-space parking garage will extend the classic design of the hotel and provide a new and even more convenient valet area for Ameristar guests.

"The addition of a four-diamond-quality hotel at our St. Charles property will extend Ameristar's ability to provide premium amenities and services for our guests," said Ameristar's President and CEO Craig H. Neilsen. "Ameristar St. Charles is already known as the premier gaming and entertainment facility in the Greater St. Louis region and our new hotel will bring a new dimension to the high-level service and quality that our guests have come to expect."

"In addition, I am pleased that our Company has made such a substantial investment in growing the local economy and furthering St. Charles' appeal as a national tourist destination," said Neilsen. "This project will not only bring numerous benefits to the community, but it will reflect Ameristar's commitment to excellence and solidify our position as the number one casino in the St. Louis metropolitan area."

The California office of Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo (WATG) are the Design Architects and Interior Designers for the project. WATG is the world's number one hotel, leisure and entertainment design firm, effectively creating the most successful hospitality destinations. Their design portfolio spans six continents and is well known for its destination and boutique resorts, including the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, The Mansion at MGM Grand, Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita and the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. The Kansas City office of the St. Louis-based Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc. (PGAV) is the Architect of Record. PGAV is noted nationally and internationally for its design of destination attractions and hospitality facilities such as Disney's Discovery Cove, Marriott Plaza Hotel in Kansas City and the Sea World Hospitality Center. The St. Louis office of Walton Construction is the general contractor. The project will create 400 union construction jobs and add more than 100 new jobs to Ameristar's existing 1,900-Team Member workforce.

Ameristar Casino St. Charles, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameristar Casinos, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASCA), brings the finest gaming and entertainment to the banks of the Missouri River, serving the entire metropolitan St. Louis area from its convenient location just north of the Interstate Highway 70 bridge near historic downtown St. Charles, Missouri. Established in 1994 as the first gaming facility in Missouri, the new Ameristar boasts a cobblestone streetscape inspired by the 1880's architecture of the St. Charles River Port District with seven dining and entertainment venues. The streetscape adjoins an all-new 130,000 square-foot casino vessel offering the largest selection of gaming options in the region, including 3,300 slot and video poker machines, 91 table games and a 19-table live poker room.

Sands Profits Now, Plans for Future

By Howard Stutz - Las Vegas Gaming Wire

LAS VEGAS -- The future of Las Vegas Sands Corp. is coming out of the ground on the corner of the Strip and halfway around the world on a parcel of reclaimed land in southern China.

But the owner of The Venetian said Thursday the company is not ignoring today.

In reporting its first-quarter earnings for the three-month period that ended March 31, Las Vegas Sands executives said the company is building the groundwork to capitalize on that future.

"While we continue to deliver exceptional financial and operating results, the opportunities that lie ahead are significant and broad-based," Las Vegas Sands President Bill Weidner said. "Our proven capabilities in the development and operation of integrated destination resorts position us to build and execute on a robust pipeline of growth opportunities worldwide."

In 2007, Las Vegas Sands will open the $1.8 billion Palazzo next to The Venetian, giving the company two resorts encompassing 7,000 hotel rooms on the Strip.

Also next year, the company will open the $3 billion Venetian Macau, which will anchor the developing Cotai Strip next to Macau, where the company operates the Sands Macau.

First-quarter results at the company's The Venetian in Las Vegas and the Sands Macau in China helped boost the company's profits.

Las Vegas Sands' net income was $121.8 million, or 34 cents a share, in the quarter ended March 31, up from $7.1 million or 2 cents a share a year ago. The 2005 figure was affected by a significant loss due to the early retirement of debt.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call predicted Las Vegas Sands would earn 34 cents a share in the quarter.

Revenues rose 31.4 percent to $530.4 million from $403.8 million.

Cash flow, defined as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was $187.9 million in the quarter, an 23.9 percent increase from $151.6 million a year ago.

At The Venetian, Las Vegas Sands said casino revenues were $97.1 million based on $363.5 million wagered on table games and $529.5 million gambled on slot machines.

The hotel-casino had food and beverage revenues of $43.3 million. Convention, retail and other operating revenues were $34.2 million

The company said The Venetian's occupancy during the quarter was 99.9 percent with an average daily room rate of $249. A year ago, The Venetian averaged 97.8 percent and an average daily room rate of $243.

Weidner said the Strip casino has benefited from increased business driven by enhancements to the property, such as a new showroom, the Tao restaurant and nightclub, and a poker room.

"We are seeing the benefits of our targeted capital investments at The Venetian," Weidner said. "The recent addition of 450,000 square feet of carpeted meeting space continues to fuel increases in group business and related food and beverage revenues."

Las Vegas Sands continued construction on the Palazzo, a 3,000 room hotel-casino being built next to The Venetian. The new resort is expected to open the third quarter of 2007.

"We believe this property will provide an excellent platform for growth in Las Vegas for years to come," Weidner said.

Las Vegas Sands is also seeking approval from Clark County to build a 1.1 million-square-foot expansion to its convention center, which could be open by the spring of 2008.

"We think this allow us to book more large groups," Weidner said.

In China, casino revenues at the Sands Macau were $278.2 million, a 62.7 percent increase compared with $171 million during the same quarter a year ago.

Weidner said competition has increased in Macau, but the Sands has been able to weather the increased casino offerings by growing its win per unit per day totals in the past year.

"The substantial increases in revenues in Macau reflect robust market demand and capacity increases at The Sands," Weidner said. "We are continuing to make progress in Macau at all levels. We are particularly pleased with the continued strength of our mass market business."

The company expects to complete an expansion to Sands Macau in August, growing the casino to 700 table games and 1,200 slot machines.

Weidner, who spoke for a vast portion of the Las Vegas Sands conference call with Wall Street analysts, said the company believes it has put out the superior bid in its quest to gain a potentially lucrative gaming license in Singapore.

The company hopes government accepts its offer to build the $3.6 billion Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort with 2,500 hotel rooms, 1.2 million square feet of meeting space and 1 million square feet of retail.

Las Vegas Sands reported earnings after trading closed on the New York Stock Exchange. Company shares closed at $66.32, up 72 cents or 1.1 percent.

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