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LAS VEGAS-Pinnacle Entertainment is making moves to acquire more of St. Louis-based President Casinos Inc., which is reorganizing under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. On the heels of a deal for President’s casino property in St. Louis for $31.5 million, locally based Pinnacle has agreed with creditors of the company to make a tender offer for its debt and related claims for a total of approximately $62.6 million.

Pinnacle has offered to acquire all outstanding 13% senior exchange notes and 12% notes for approximately $809.07 in cash per $1,000 in principal amount, along with 100% of all other pre-petition general unsecured claims allowed as of July 12 in an amount not to exceed $2 million. The tentative agreement is with members of the creditors’ committee of unsecured creditors.

President Casinos filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002. The company sold its Biloxi, MS, hotel and casino for $82 million in 2005, leaving only its riverboat operations in St. Louis. In May 2006, Pinnacle cut the deal for President’s St. Louis Riverfront property; scheduled to close later this year, it is contingent upon licensing approval by the Missouri Gaming Commission and final approval of the debtors’ bankruptcy plan by the court.

Pinnacle chairman/chief executive Daniel Lee says the move to acquire the debt will help facilitate the company’s acquisition of the casino property. “By acquiring these debt claims, we can help support a planned bankruptcy-court reorganization,” he says.

Members of the creditors’ committee, including the two major holders of President Casinos’ notes and who hold or control more than 80% of the note claims outstanding, have agreed to tender their notes to Pinnacle. Pinnacle will begin the note tender within the next few days, and will begin the offer to purchase the unsecured claims shortly thereafter. Under the agreement with the major note holders and other members of the creditors’ committee, the offers must be closed by Aug. 18, 2006.

As of May 31, 2006, President Riverboat Casino-Missouri Inc. listed in a bankruptcy filing a cash balance of approximately $29 million and post-petition liabilities of approximately $6 million. The holders of the bonds, which pursuant to the tender offer should include Pinnacle, are expected to receive a large portion of the distribution to creditors in the final plan of reorganization.

President’s St. Louis property is within walking distance from the Laclede’s Landing historic district and Pinnacle’s $350 million project in Downtown St. Louis, which is currently under construction. The casino-hotel will include a casino, a 200-guestroom luxury hotel and spa, several restaurants, and 12,000 sf of meeting and convention space.

In September 2005, Pinnacle acquired two properties adjacent to its Downtown St. Louis project, a three-acre parcel along North First Street and the 297-room Embassy Suites Hotel. The purchases give Pinnacle ownership of all real estate in an 18-acre area located north of the Gateway Arch and bounded by Third Street, Carr Street, Lenore K. Sullivan Drive and Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard.

In addition to the Laclede’s Landing project, 10 miles south of Downtown, in the community of Lemay, Pinnacle has started work on a $300-million gaming and mixed-use project. The proposed development is situated on approximately 56 acres of land leased from the St. Louis County Port Authority. It will include a 90,000-sf, 3,000-slot casino; a 100-guestroom hotel; and an undetermined amount of retail and entertainment space.

An additional 24 acres would be developed into a public park that would include community and recreational facilities. Because the county project requires extensive remediation of the former industrial site as well as construction of a new road and flood control measures, the company estimates that the project will open approximately one after its Laclede’s Landing development.

Pinnacle Entertainment owns and operates casinos in Nevada, Louisiana, Indiana, Argentina, and the Bahamas. It also has two casino development projects in the St. Louis area that are dependent upon final approval by the Missouri Gaming Commission, and has significant insurance claims related to a hurricane-damaged casino previously operated in Biloxi. Shares of the company stock were up $0.38 (1.35%) in late afternoon trading Monday to $28.48; it’s 52-week price range is $16.02 to $32.09.

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