Pinnacle Entertainment to Acquire Aztar Corp.

Las Vegas -- Pinnacle Entertainment today announced it has agreed to acquire Aztar Corp., whose holdings include Tropicana casino-hotels in the major gaming and meetings destinations of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

The $2.1-billion deal also includes Aztar riverboat casinos in Evansville, Ind., and Caruthersville, Mo; and a Ramada Express Hotel, in Laughlin, Nev.

"We intend to create a nationwide casino network, not unlike that of some of our larger competitors," said Daniel Lee, Pinnacle's chairman and chief executive. "This transaction will enable Pinnacle to further broaden and diversify its geographic presence and cash flows, as well as generate cross-marketing synergies."

The combined company will have 12 gaming properties and more than 8,800 hotel rooms in Nevada, New Jersey, Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana.

The Tropicana in Atlantic City contains 2,100 guest rooms and more than 122,000 square feet of flexible function space. The resort recently opened a 200,000-square-foot dining, retail and entertainment complex called The Quarter.

The original Tropicana, in Las Vegas, contains 1,871 guest rooms and 110,000 square feet of flexible meeting space.

Pinnacle's properties include Belterra Casino Resort, located between Cincinnati and Louisville, in the Ohio River Valley. The 600-room resort contains 33,000 square feet of meeting space and features an 18-hole golf course.

Subject to shareholder approval, the deal is expected to close by year's end.