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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Missouri regulators sign off on Pinnacle-Ameristar deal

25 July 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc.’s $2.8 billion buyout of Ameristar Casinos, Inc. received the last state regulatory approval needed to finalize the transaction Wednesday.

The Missouri Gaming Commission approved the acquisition, which will create a regional casino company with 17 properties in nine states.

Pinnacle said it hopes to close the sale by the end of August.

Officials from the Las Vegas-based company told the Missouri regulators Pinnacle hopes to finalize an agreement to sell its Lumiere Place in downtown St. Louis within two weeks.

The sale is part of a settlement the company reached with the Federal Trade Commission to avoid any antitrust issues. Pinnacle will also sell Ameristar’s $580 million resort development project in Lake Charles, La.

The company said it will complete financing needed for the transaction by next week.

Final approval from the FTC is still needed. The company told regulators it has selected a “monitor” for Lumiere Place and the Lake Charles project and has identified two managers, one for each facility. Both individuals have been interviewed by the FTC.

Brean Capital gaming analyst Justin Sebastiano told investors that any weakness in Pinnacle stock was due to Penn National Gaming’s poor earnings report on Tuesday and the company’s “weak guidance for the balance of 2013.”

Shares of Pinnacle dropped 43 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $18.93 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Ameristar dropped 1 cent to $26.44 on the Nasdaq Global Select.