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Ameristar mourns death of CEO

20 November 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Ameristar Casinos, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASCA) is saddened to announce the death of Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and majority shareholder Craig H. Neilsen. Neilsen passed away unexpectedly in his sleep on November 19 at his home in Las Vegas. He is survived by his son Ray and stepdaughters Jaime and Amanda.

"I am deeply saddened by my Dad's death," said Ray Neilsen, Ameristar Co-Chairman of the Board and Vice President of Operations and Special Projects. "Those of us who knew my Dad respect him tremendously as a business leader with inexhaustible passion for our Company. He was an entrepreneur with incredible vision who took the Company public and who led our strong growth. Further, he inspired all of us with the courage, determination and dignity that he demonstrated every day in living with a spinal cord injury. He has left a lasting impact on the lives of so many others through his generosity and community spirit. I can't begin to express the great personal loss to me and my family, as well as to the entire Ameristar family."

Mr. Neilsen's estate plan provides for his stock in Ameristar to be transferred to his private foundation, The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, which is primarily focused on spinal cord injury research and treatment. The successor co-trustees of the Foundation are Ray Neilsen and Ameristar Executive Vice President and Co-Chairman of the Board Gordon R. Kanofsky, both of whom have been involved in the management of the Company for many years. Mr. Neilsen's desire was for the Foundation to retain a controlling interest in Ameristar for the long term.

Ameristar's Board of Directors met on November 19 to take action to implement the Company's management succession plan. John M. Boushy, President of the Company, was elected to succeed Craig Neilsen as Chief Executive Officer, and Ray Neilsen and Mr. Kanofsky were elected to the Board as Co-Chairmen. Senior management expects the transition to be orderly and without any changes in the Company's key philosophies and strategies.

"I deeply regret the loss of my mentor and friend," said Kanofsky. "Craig was very well prepared in all of his business transactions, and this is no exception. He thoughtfully laid the foundation for the future ownership and management of the Company. The Board has supreme confidence in John's ability to lead the Company following in Craig's footsteps. I look forward to working with John and Ray as we move the Company forward."

"I feel truly privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Craig," said Boushy. "In my short time with Ameristar, my admiration for its performance has grown into a strong conviction that the four cornerstone strategies of the business are instrumental to our success. These are and will remain: to create the best facilities, provide the best gaming experiences, build the brand and take a hands-on approach to management. Given the success created by these philosophies, the entire Ameristar management team is committed to build upon and grow the legacy that Craig established."

Mr. Neilsen was born in 1941 in Logan, Utah. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ameristar since the Company's inception in 1993. Prior to that time, Mr. Neilsen led the privately held casino hotel organization consisting of Cactus Petes Resort Casino and The Horseshu. These two original properties, with a 50-year history, created the foundation for the current Ameristar business.

Under Mr. Neilsen's guidance, the Company has grown to seven properties in Nevada, Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri, and Colorado. Ameristar is recognized for the highest quality properties with a diverse range of gaming, dining and entertainment options that provide a total entertainment experience.

Mr. Neilsen was an executive in gaming, real estate development and construction for more than four decades. Prior to focusing his efforts on Ameristar, his real estate development and construction firm, Neilsen & Company, was the largest and most successful in Southern Idaho. That company was responsible for the construction of many of Twin Falls' major buildings, most recently the upscale Canyon Park lifestyle center.

Mr. Neilsen's educational background includes a Bachelor's degree from Utah State University, as well as a Master of Business Administration degree and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah. In 2002, he was honored as "Best Performing CEO" by the American Gaming Association, and in 2005 he was inducted into the American Gaming Association's Gaming Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was named Outstanding Business Leader by the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. Mr. Neilsen served on the Board of the American Gaming Association.

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