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Missouri Gaming Commission approves casino deal

Wednesday - 7/24/2013, 5:19pm  ET

JIM SALTER
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Gaming regulators in Missouri on Wednesday approved Pinnacle Entertainment's $2.8 billion purchase of Ameristar Casinos Inc., clearing one of the final hurdles in the acquisition.

Members of the Missouri Gaming Commission voted 4-0 in favor of the deal during a meeting in St. Louis. Missouri was the last state to approve. The Federal Trade Commission must still give the go-ahead.

Pinnacle spokeswoman Kerry Andersen said the company hopes to complete the transaction in August.

The FTC raised concerns in May that the buyout could diminish competition in the Missouri and Louisiana casino markets. As a result, Pinnacle in June agreed to sell its Lumiere Place casino and two hotels in downtown St. Louis, and an Ameristar complex in Lake Charles, La.

Both Pinnacle and Ameristar are based in Las Vegas. In Missouri, Pinnacle also owns River City Casino in St. Louis and Ameristar owns Missouri casinos in St. Charles and Kansas City.

Pinnacle owns seven U.S. casinos and a racetrack, and has another casino under development in Cincinnati. It operates in Louisiana, Indiana and Missouri. Ameristar has eight casinos in the United States, including holdings in Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Mississippi, Indiana and Nevada.

The buyout could potentially more than double Pinnacle's size. The deal has already been approved by the boards of both operators.

Shares of Pinnacle dropped 43 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $18.93 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Ameristar dropped 1 cent to $26.44.


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