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Restaurant Firm May Venture into Gambling

23 December 2004

HOUSTON, Texas – As reported by the Houston Chronicle: "A booming casino industry, a lack of attractive restaurant merger targets and $400 million in cash has Landry's Restaurants prowling the Las Vegas Strip in search of its next acquisition.

"The company hasn't formally announced plans to get into gaming, but Landry's Chief Executive Officer Tilman Fertitta has made no secret of his interest.

"At a recent analyst conference in New York, he lamented the shortage of good merger deals in the restaurant industry. And in a recent conference call, he said the company would consider buying a casino '... but it would have to be the right deal'"

"With $400 million raised just this week through a debt offering, the company is now well-armed to go hunting for that right deal.

"There are many individual casinos on the market, the result of a merger spree among the nation's biggest gaming companies. There are also a handful of small, publicly traded gaming companies that would fit in Landry's price range.

"One of those companies saw its stock price surge Wednesday in reaction to takeover speculation. Riviera Holdings, owner of the Riviera Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip and the Black Hawk Casino in Colorado, saw its stock climb $6.35 to close at $41.80.

"…Whether or not Riviera is a target for a Landry's takeover, it may be the kind of investment Landry's and Fertitta could grow to love.

"…Even if Landry's does find a willing seller in Las Vegas or elsewhere, it could take many months for a deal to close. The application and approval process for a gaming license, which Landry's would need to own a casino, can take six months or more…"

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