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Ameristar Starts Construction on New Casino Complex in St. Charles, Missouri

21 May 2001

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – (Press Release) -- Ameristar Casinos, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASCA) announced that it has entered into a construction contract with J.S. Alberici Construction Co., Inc. for the completion of a substantial portion of the new casino-entertainment facility at Ameristar St. Charles [near St. Louis].

Construction equipment and resources are being mobilized, and Ameristar expects construction to commence within a matter of days, ahead of its previously announced commencement date of June 2001. As originally planned, Ameristar expects to complete construction and open the new facility in mid-2002.

``I am pleased to announce the groundbreaking of this project to the St. Charles community,'' explains Ameristar President and Chief Executive Officer, Craig H. Neilsen. ``We will bring Ameristar's high standards of quality to this project and create the premier gaming and entertainment facility in the St. Louis metropolitan area,'' adds Neilsen. ``In the future, we will pursue strategic opportunities for further expansion, such as additional casino space and restaurants, a hotel, and a multi-faceted entertainment complex for this property.''

``It is exciting to see this project continue,'' says Ameristar St. Charles General Manager, Anthony J. Raymon. ``This community has been waiting a long time to see this development proceed, and we are looking forward to premiering the new facility to the city of St. Charles.''

The former owner of Ameristar St. Charles invested approximately $169 million in this project before halting construction in June 1997.

The contract with Alberici, which has been the general contractor on the project since its commencement, covers a substantial portion of the work necessary to complete this project, with the exception of the interior build-out of the land-side entertainment center that will be separately contracted for following the completion of its design.

It also provides for a guaranteed maximum price of approximately $75 million for the completion of the scope of work covered by the contract, slightly below the Company's initial expectations for this work. Operations at the current St. Charles casino are not expected to be disrupted by the construction of the new facility.

Ameristar's initial design plan for the completion of the new St. Charles facility, with an estimated budget of approximately $110 million, includes a man-made protective basin containing two new gaming vessels, a retail and entertainment complex featuring an approximately 550-seat buffet, a well- appointed steakhouse and an entertainment lounge. As initially designed, only a portion of the casino interior would be completed, with approximately 2,400 slot machines and 60 table games in a total of approximately 70,000 square feet of gaming space, approximately 25,000 more square feet of casino space than the current facility.

Ameristar is considering various alternative designs that would further expand the casino and add other enhancements. Any such design changes and change orders to the work currently under contract will likely result in an increase to the guaranteed maximum price under the Alberici contract and the total budget for the new St. Charles facility.

Ameristar Casinos, Inc. is an innovative, Las Vegas-based entertainment company known for its distinctive, quality conscious hotel casinos, and value orientation. Led by President and Chief Executive Officer Craig H. Neilsen, the organization's roots go back nearly five decades to a tiny roadside casino in the high plateau country that borders Idaho and Nevada. Publicly held since November 1993, the corporation owns and operates six properties in Nevada, Missouri, Iowa and Mississippi, two of which carry the prestigious American Automobile Association's Four Diamond designation. Ameristar's Common Stock is traded on the NASDAQ National Market System under the symbol: ASCA.

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