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Ameristar Casinos President, CEO Wins Award

18 October 2002

LAS VEGAS – (Press Release) -- The American Gaming Association (AGA) and HVS Executive Search have recognized Ameristar Casinos, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASCA) President, CEO and Chairman of the Board Craig H. Neilsen as "Best Performing CEO" for 2002. The award was bestowed to Neilsen at a recent event, held in conjunction with the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) and attended by more than 200 representatives from throughout the gaming and hospitality industries. The presentation was made by Keith Kefgen, president of HVS Executive Search, and Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the AGA.

Kefgen announced the award criteria included evaluation of Ameristar's financial growth, decision making process, application of the HVS Pay-for-Performance Model (which incorporates standard business indicators and quantifies the performance of a given chief executive relative to their peers). Other considerations were the stock appreciation value (of Ameristar compared to the average stock appreciation of the peer group) and EBITDA growth.

"This year, the Best Performing CEO honor went, hands down, to Craig Neilsen of Ameristar," Kefgen says. "Neilsen rewarded shareholders handsomely, most specifically with the purchase of two properties in Missouri and the sale of a Henderson, Nev. holding. Additionally, Ameristar's new St. Charles operation has been a home run."

As the principal officer of Ameristar and leading figure at two of the company's original Nevada properties, Neilsen has been instrumental in expanding Ameristar to the mid-cap gaming category. The company now includes six properties in four jurisdictions. Additionally, Neilsen has been credited with developing the strategic philosophies guiding Ameristar's rapid development in the past decade.

Ameristar Casinos was the gaming revenue market share leader in each of its markets for the month ended August 2002.

The new St. Charles facility opened successfully on Aug. 6, 2002. The property boasts the largest selection of slot machines and table games in the St. Louis market. The new facility includes 80 percent more gaming positions and has 345 percent more restaurant seating capacity than the previous facility.

Neilsen stated that, "the honor acknowledges Ameristar's financial and development milestones and the success of our company's team orientation. Through a series of strategic initiatives, we have moved into the mid-cap gaming category, and concurrent with our growth, we have continued to record strong earnings. We have carried forth our philosophy of 'investing in ourselves,' by building and refining hotel casinos that provide a multi-faceted approach of entertainment, food and beverage, and gaming amenities supported by dedicated, talented and service-oriented team members. My appreciation goes out to my executives and the many individuals at Ameristar who have supported my vision and led to this impressive recognition."

Former recipients of the AGA "Best Performing CEO" award include Steve Wynn, while associated with Mirage Resorts, Inc., and Terri Lanni, while with MGM (the two organizations were consolidated in recent years to form MGM Mirage).

The AGA represents the commercial casino-entertainment industry by addressing federal legislative and regulatory issues. The association also serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops educational and advocacy programs and provides leadership on industry-related issues of public concern.

HVS Executive Search is a human resources consulting firm dedicated to the gaming, lodging and restaurant industries. The firm provides retained executive search, compensation consulting, and corporate governance counseling. Keith Kefgen, president, is a frequent author and lecturer on the topic of executive pay practices, while Stephen Goebel, vice president, is responsible for searches in the gaming industry.

Ameristar Casinos, Inc. is an innovative, Las Vegas-based gaming and entertainment company known for its distinctive, quality conscious hotel-casinos and value orientation. Led by President and Chief Executive Officer Craig H. Neilsen, the organization'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, two of which carry the prestigious American Automobile Association's Four Diamond designation. Ameristar's Common Stock is traded on the Nasdaq National Market System under the symbol: ASCA.

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