Ameri-stars in St. Louis

Jan 14, 2003 12:57 AM

BY GT STAFF / WIRE REPORTS

Ameristar Casino Inc. was the runaway winner among the five casinos in the St. Louis area market.

The casino’s operation in St. Charles, Mo., reported a year-over-year gain in its adjusted gross receipts (total bets minus payouts). The combined wins for the area’s casinos rose slightly in December, edging up 0.3 percent to $66.2 million, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Ameristar was tops last month with $19.8 million in adjusted gross receipts, a rise of 52.3 percent from a year ago. Harrah’s Entertainment’s casino, located in nearby Maryland Heights, was down 20.3 percent from December 2001.

"The economy is stagnant," said Craig Travers, general manager of the Casino Queen in East St. Louis. "The revenue is going to be somewhat stagnant too, I suppose."

President Casino’s Admiral had $5.8 million in adjusted gross receipts last month, down 9.3 percent from last year. Argosy Gaming’s Alton Belle was off 6.9 percent from 2001.

Key West ads pulled

Captain Eric Crawford pulled all references to slot machines and gambling aboard his Key West (Fla.) Shuttle last week.

Crawford reacted to a dispute that developed at a Marco Island Planning Board meeting when the issue of gambling arose. The marina owners were seeking a dock extension.

"I gave the order," he said. "I do not believe we’re doing anything wrong, but people are now beginning to question (the ads) and we don’t need any bad publicity. Marco Marina is an excellent establishment and we don’t want to do anything to jeopardize it."

Showdown favors Trump

New Jersey Attorney General David Samson has backed down in what had been a high-stakes standoff with casino mogul Donald Trump.

The Newark Star Ledger reported that Samson’s decision came after a meeting with Trump lawyers Joel Sterns and Paul O’Gara. They claimed Samson’s tough stance could kill Trump’s chances of refinancing $470 million of his casino company’s debt and push it toward bankruptcy.

"It would not only have been a disaster for Trump, but for the state," Sterns said.

Engler deals late

Former Michigan Gov. John Engler negotiated an eleventh-hour agreement prior to leaving office that permitted up to three new Indian casinos in the state.

The agreement came two days before current Gov. Jennifer Granholm took over. The deal went unannounced and was overshadowed in the final days of the Engler administration.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Granholm had been unaware of the agreement until news organizations started to call.

Nebraska eyes casinos

The state of Nebraska could get up to 13 casinos under a constitutional amendment proposed last week.

The plan would also call for a six-mile casino gambling zone along the state’s borders, instead of the two-mile zone previously considered. Additional casinos would also be placed at the state’s horse tracks in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Columbus and South Sioux City.

The amendment would require voter approval.