Ameristar Casinos to Develop Regional Casino-Hotel Destination in England

LAS VEGAS -- Ameristar Casinos, Inc. announced plans to develop a regional destination casino-hotel and entertainment facility as part of a major regeneration project at the West Quay in Southampton, England. In conjunction with Bravo Network Limited, the Council's preferred developer of the site, Ameristar will seek one of the eight regional casino licenses expected to be available upon the anticipated 2005 adoption of new United Kingdom gambling laws. If approved, Ameristar will develop a first-class regional destination consisting of the casino, a variety of dining and entertainment venues, a 200-room 4-star luxury hotel and conference facility and other leisure amenities. Bravo will develop an 8,000-seat state-of-the-art multi-purpose indoor arena with an Olympic-size ice rink and an additional leisure ice rink for community ice skating.

The Southampton City Council has selected Bravo as the arena developer and Bravo has introduced Ameristar to ensure the deliverability of the multi-purpose arena and leisure ice skating facilities, which are dependent on considerable investment. The project's GBP 240 million budget will be allocated between Ameristar and Bravo, including a substantial contribution by Ameristar toward the arena and leisure ice facilities. "Ameristar is pleased to participate in the regeneration of Southampton's West Quay," said Craig H. Neilsen, Ameristar's Chairman and CEO. "This project will bring an outstanding new entertainment outlet to Southampton and southeastern England, greatly complementing the city center's existing retail and leisure offerings. It will also stimulate the local economy through capital investment, the creation of approximately 1,200 quality jobs and the purchase of millions of Pounds of goods and services from local and regional businesses." At yesterday's Southampton Council Cabinet meeting, Council Leader Adrian Vinson issued a statement regarding the development and the pursuit of a regional casino license. The statement is included in its entirety at the end of this release. Jim Brathwaite, Chairman of the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), said: "The South East England Development Agency welcomes this major investment proposal for Southampton and the commitment Bravo and Ameristar have made to it. The regeneration of the region's town and city centres is a key priority for SEEDA and the combination of leisure activities proposed on this site is both innovative and complementary to other regeneration activity currently taking place in Southampton."

Ameristar will develop this project consistent with the first class approach for which it is well known in the United States, where its facilities are recognized for their high quality design, construction and guest service. Bravo's 8,000-seat multi-purpose arena will also tout the most current technology to house sporting events, concerts and other special events. The total project cost is estimated at approximately GBP 240 million ($445 million). Ameristar's costs are estimated at approximately GBP 195 million ($360 million), including its contribution towards the construction of the arena and leisure ice facilities.

Completion of the project is contingent on the receipt of planning approval, the passage of new gambling legislation currently being considered by the UK Parliament and the receipt of a regional casino license under such legislation.

There has been interest in recent weeks in the prospect of Southampton bidding to become one of the cities which will host a 'Regional Casino.' In connection with this the Leader of the City Council, Councillor Adrian Vinson, has made the following statement to the council's Cabinet this afternoon.

"Colleagues will be aware that there has been considerable discussion in the media about the legislation for large-scale casinos and whether Southampton should be a candidate for one," said Cllr Vinson.

"We are aware of the concerns that people have with the Gambling Bill, and we will be watching developments closely. We are encouraged that a regulator will be appointed and we hope that the new Gambling Commission will have strong powers to monitor and control the activities of any casino development in England. We welcome the requirements of the Gambling Bill to contribute to support and welfare networks.

The Council will, of course, have to consider any application for a casino in the city on its individual merits and in the context of any national legislation if a new gambling bill is passed.

However there is an opportunity for a combination of leisure and entertainment facilities that has the potential to bring significant benefit to the residents and visitors to the city with up to 1000 jobs for our residents through first class leisure facilities including an arena and two ice rinks.

We would want to ensure that any development of this kind will bring the maximum benefits to our residents, whilst minimising any avoidable risks. If approved, we will be working closely with partners to ensure that the concerns of our residents are taken into consideration, and that such a facility contributes effectively to the long-term vision for our city.

The Council has already selected Bravo as the arena developers and they have proposed the casino operator Ameristar as an enabler for the project. There is space in the area to accommodate a combined complex. A casino will underpin the deliverability of a multi purpose indoor arena with ice rink in the city, which is dependent on considerable investment.

We shall be writing to the relevant government offices and any other relevant bodies setting out this position and offering an opportunity to visit Southampton to see for themselves the ideal opportunity to deliver very quickly the full potential for regeneration of a city centre that the legislation seeks to achieve."