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Aztar Buyer Feared Background Check

30 May 2006

MISSOURI – As reported by the Morning Call: "A Kentucky company that is buying Aztar Corp. — the gambling outfit trying to build a casino in Allentown — abandoned a plan to buy a riverboat casino in Missouri because company officials feared they would fail a background check.

"Columbia Sussex Corp., which last week won a bidding war to acquire Aztar for $2.01 billion, was set to buy the bankrupt President Casino in St. Louis for $57 million. But Columbia walked away from the deal thinking its license application probably would be denied by Missouri gaming regulators.

"Whether the trouble in Missouri will translate into problems with the Allentown casino bid is unclear. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which expects to award licenses for seven stand-alone casinos in December, will not comment on pending applications. And Columbia's acquisition of Aztar still has to be approved by Aztar shareholders, who are expected to vote in coming weeks.

"But Pennsylvania gaming board members have said they will base their decisions partly on the outcome of background checks of each applicant.

"…Columbia President Bill Yung said Friday he got a raw deal in Missouri and he doesn't think the investigation there will influence Aztar's plans to build a $350 million casino in east Allentown…"

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