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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson

Horseshoe Exec Confirms Interest of Possible Suitors

14 August 2003

LAS VEGAS -- Horseshoe Gaming Holdings Corp. executives Wednesday confirmed reports that the three-riverboat company based in Las Vegas has talked to prospective buyers, but downplayed suggestions that a deal is close.

"You no doubt have heard rumors that one or more companies (are interested in buying us)," Horseshoe President Roger Wagner said during a Wednesday conference call with casino industry analysts and investors. "Yes, there has been some interest. But, contrary to published reports, there are no deals. We are only in (the) interested discussion phase."

The company has entertained interest from prospective buyers several times over the past few years, and for good reason, he said, noting Horseshoe's strong profitability.

The conference call also discussed Horseshoe's second-quarter earnings, which included a 1.3 percent revenue jump to $212.3 million from $209.5 million.

Sources recently said Las Vegas-based Ameristar Casinos offered $1.39 billion for Horseshoe Gaming Holdings, and said two weeks ago that Ameristar was in a due-diligence phase of looking at Horseshoe books and operations.

Sources said last week Ameristar was arranging financing to back up its reported offer.

Horseshoe Gaming operates casinos in Hammond, Ind.; Bossier City, La.; and Tunica, Miss.

Horseshoe executives didn't return Wednesday phone messages and Ameristar corporate policy prohibits its spokeswoman from commenting on merger and acquisition reports.

Horseshoe's quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the period ended June 30 listed net income of $11.8 million, up 372 percent from $2.5 million.

Wagner said tough competition in Tunica and higher tax rates in Hammond were offset by improved business in Bossier City and Hammond.