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Ameristar's Plan to Combine Casinos Stalled

31 May 2001

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouris – May 31, 2001 – As reported by the Kansas City Star: "Ameristar will have to wait another month to know whether it can combine its dual Kansas City casinos into one large gambling boat.

"The Missouri Gaming Commission, meeting Wednesday in Jefferson City, put off the decision until late June. Its director, Kevin Mullally, said the commission staff must review Ameristar's construction plans, which were announced last week, and how the change would affect state gambling tax collections.

"If the commission approves the casino conversion, Ameristar Missouri President John V. Finamore said Wednesday, the company also will immediately invest $20 million in construction of a 2,200-car parking garage `to demonstrate our financial commitment to Missouri.'

"…He likened Ameristar's garage plan to pledges by Harrah's Entertainment Inc. in recent years to add hotel rooms and other amenities if allowed to consolidate operations at its gambling boats in Kansas City and the St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights.

"In a brief presentation to commissioners Wednesday, Finamore said the change from two casinos to one is projected to have a minimal effect on state and local casino admission tax collections. The state and casino host communities share a $2 tax for every admission, and Ameristar is taxed a second time when a gambler switches from one casino to the other. So combining Ameristar's gambling floors would eliminate that extra tax.

"…`We believe the reconfigured Ameristar Kansas City Casino would be the sixth-largest gaming facility in the country,' Finamore said.

"…Finamore said boat switchers at dual-vessel casinos such as Ameristar were only in double digits in late 1999 when the commission first allowed unlimited open boarding. Finamore said most of the switching back then appeared to be among `high rollers' trying to maximize their access to gambling chips and tokens under the state's $500 loss limit.

"But since 1999, Finamore said, gamblers `have figured it out,' learning that the $500 limit restarts every two hours…"

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