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Aztar to Exercise Las Vegas Tropicana Option

30 January 2002

PHOENIX, Arizona -- (Press Release) -- Aztar Corporation (NYSE: AZR) today announced that it plans to exercise its option to acquire the half-interest that it does not own in Tropicana Enterprises, the partnership that controls the land and buildings related to the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The payment to be made for the acquisition, net of credits toward the purchase price, will be $117.5 million, to be funded by approximately $50 million in cash and $67.5 million in borrowings under the company's bank revolving credit facility.

Aztar also will assume approximately $49 million of existing partnership debt that Aztar currently services under the terms of its existing operating lease.

The company expects the transaction to be closed by March 31, 2002. There are no plans for immediate redevelopment of the Tropicana site and current operations are to be continued indefinitely.


The company believes that the transaction will generate the following benefits to Aztar:

-- The acquisition is estimated to be $0.08 accretive to earnings per share and $0.12 accretive to free cash flow per share during the first 12 months following the acquisition.

-- The acquisition will eliminate the existing operating lease and extinguish Aztar's obligation to pay rent over the remaining nine years of the lease, resulting in estimated savings of cash payments to our partner of $60 million with a present after-tax value of between $26 million and $28 million.

-- Aztar will obtain unrestricted trademark rights to use the name "Tropicana" for casinos and casino resort hotels.

-- The acquisition will simplify the company's balance sheet and income statement and will facilitate clearer communications with investors.

-- Most importantly, Aztar will establish its full ownership of a very valuable real estate site consisting of the 34 acres of land and improvements that constitute the Las Vegas Tropicana.

Potential development

Aztar continues to conduct feasibility studies to master-plan a potential development of the 34 acres located at the southeast quadrant of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) and Tropicana Avenue.

The master plan envisions the creation of two separate but essentially equal and inter-connected 17-acre development sites, both fronting the Las Vegas Strip.

The north site would be developed by Aztar. The south site would be held for future Aztar development, joint venture development, or sale for development by another party.

Based on feasibility studies, Aztar believes that each site is capable of supporting a major casino resort property consisting of 2,000 to 3,000 hotel rooms, a 100,000- to 120,000-square-foot casino, and extensive retail, dining, entertainment, meeting and resort recreational amenities. The company also believes that each of the projects could be built for a cost of $600 million to $700 million and would generate cash flow rates of return of 18 to 20 percent.

"For development of a potential project on the north site, we plan to complete a detailed design development effort, construction documents, and a construction budget review by the summer of 2003," said Paul E. Rubeli, Aztar chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer. "At that time, we will confirm our project scope, cost, timing and return assumptions; assess the strength of and outlook for the Las Vegas market; and make a decision on whether or not to proceed with a redevelopment of the site."

Conference Call

The company has scheduled a conference call to report its fiscal 2001 earnings and to answer questions about the exercise of the option beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time Tuesday, February 5, 2002. The call will be broadcast live on the Internet through our website at

Aztar is a publicly traded company that operates Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Tropicana Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ramada Express Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, Casino Aztar in Caruthersville, Missouri, and Casino Aztar in Evansville, Indiana.

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