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Aztar Q1 Results Mixed

24 April 2003

PHOENIX, Arizona -- (Press Release) -- Aztar Corporation (NYSE:AZR) today announced results for its fiscal first quarter of 2003. Highlights of the quarter, which ended on April 3, 2003, were:

-- Earnings per share of 36 cents, diluted, compared with 35 cents per share in the year-earlier quarter.

-- Operating income of $31.7 million versus $32.1 million.

-- EBITDA of $44.2 million compared with $44.6 million.

"Our business held up well in the first quarter despite the war, the economy and severe winter weather, which had a large negative impact on our operations in Atlantic City, especially over the important Presidents' Day weekend. This year's quarter also presented a particularly difficult challenge for us because we were up against a record first quarter last year," said Paul E. Rubeli, Aztar chairman of the board and chief executive officer. "Importantly for the future, our Tropicana Atlantic City expansion is well on the way to becoming a reality. Although the snow and cold weather have caused us to lose a number of construction days, resulting in project completion being pushed back by several weeks, we still anticipate that the project will open by the end of the first quarter of 2004."

The expansion of the Tropicana Atlantic City will create the largest hotel, third largest casino and only indoor Las Vegas-style dining/entertainment/retail complex in Atlantic City. The expansion includes 502 additional hotel rooms, 20,000 square feet of meeting space, 2,400 parking spaces, and "The Quarter," the project's centerpiece, a 200,000-square-foot dining, entertainment and retail center. Over 40 new outlets will occupy The Quarter, which, when added to the over 20 then existing, will result in over 60 dining, entertainment and retail choices at the Tropicana.

The company is completing enhancement to other areas of the Tropicana, including a major renovation of the Tropicana's Boardwalk facade. An additional 280 slot machines and dining and retail facilities in an area named "The Marketplace at the Boardwalk" opened early this month.

Balance Sheet Items

Cash and cash equivalents were $45 million at the end of the first quarter of 2003 compared with $53 million at the end of 2002. Long-term debt, including the current portion, was $546 million at the end of the first quarter of 2003, compared with $529 million at the end of 2002. There were 35.4 million shares of common stock outstanding at the end of the first quarter of 2003.

Share Repurchase

The company announced on December 11, 2002, that its board of directors had authorized management to make discretionary repurchases of up to 4.0 million shares of its common stock, or approximately 10 percent of common stock outstanding at that time. During the first quarter of 2003, the company purchased 1,674,800 shares at an average price of $13.01 per share, bringing the total purchased in the program to 1,958,000 shares at an average price of $13.20 per share.

Capital Expenditures

In the first quarter of 2003, purchases of property and equipment totaled $29 million. Approximately $10 million of the total was spent on routine expenditures, and $19 million (including $1.5 million of capitalized interest) went for development.

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