Ameristar Cap A Year of Record Results

Ameristar Casinos, Inc. today announced fourth quarter 2003 results that
exceeded management`s previously issued guidance. Ameristar also announced
record results for the year ended December 31, 2003.

Financial Highlights * Consolidated net revenues of $197.1 million for the
fourth quarter of 2003, representing an 8.5% increase from the 2002 fourth
quarter. Record consolidated net revenues of $782.0 million for 2003, an
increase of 12.0% from 2002. * Consolidated operating income of $31.4
million for the fourth quarter of 2003, representing a 24.8% increase from
the 2002 fourth quarter. Record consolidated operating income of $139.9
million for 2003, a 21.5% increase from 2002. * Consolidated EBITDA (a
non-GAAP financial measure which is defined and reconciled with operating
income below) of $48.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2003,
representing an increase of 21.3% from the 2002 fourth quarter. Record
consolidated EBITDA of $203.5 million for 2003, an increase of 24.2% from
2002. * Diluted earnings per share of $0.35 for the fourth quarter of
2003, representing an increase of 84.2% from the 2002 fourth quarter.
Record diluted earnings per share of $1.76 for 2003, an increase of 17.3%
from 2002. Analysts` latest consensus estimates for the fourth quarter and
full year 2003, as reported by Thompson First Call, were $0.34 and $1.76,
respectively. * We decreased our long-term debt by $81.6 million in 2003,
including prepayments of $15.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2003 and
$49.9 million for the full year. Our leverage ratio (as defined in our
senior credit agreement) at December 31, 2003 had improved to 3.5 times,
improving our position for future expansion of our existing operations and
growth opportunities in new markets. Operational Highlights * We were
number one in gaming market share in all of our markets for both the
fourth quarter of 2003 and the full year 2003, and at the same time
improved our operating income and EBITDA margins year-over- year for both
periods. * We led our markets in the introduction of coinless slot
technology at our Ameristar branded properties with approximately 75% of
the slot machines coinless at the end of 2003. We expect to have
approximately 100% of the slot machines at these properties coinless by
the end of 2004. * We introduced the “All New Ameristar Kansas City” in
September 2003, which features a completely renovated casino floor and
many new dining and entertainment venues. * We completed a total
renovation of the buffet and kitchen at Ameristar Vicksburg, rebranding
the venue as the Heritage Buffet, in December 2003 and plan to construct a
meeting room and enhance certain common areas of the casino vessel in the
first quarter of 2004.
“During 2003, we continued to successfully execute our key operating
strategies designed to enhance the overall excitement of our facilities
and improve our profitability,” said Craig H. Neilsen, Chairman and CEO.
“These strategies include capital enhancements at our premier properties,
the implementation of leading slot technology and utilization of effective
and efficient targeted marketing programs. We believe our record financial
results for 2003 validate the effectiveness of our business strategies and
strength of the Ameristar brand. We believe we are well positioned for
continued financial success and future expansion.”

Net revenues for the fourth quarter of 2003 increased to $197.1 million,
an 8.5% improvement from the prior-year quarter, led by double-digit
percentage increases at Ameristar St. Charles, Ameristar Council Bluffs
and Ameristar Vicksburg. Ameristar Kansas City posted a 5.8% increase in
net revenues as the property completed its first full quarter of
operations since the introduction of the “All New Ameristar Kansas City.”
In Jackpot, net revenues declined 1.4%; the Jackpot properties continue to
be negatively impacted by increased competition from an Idaho Native
American gaming facility which is closer to a portion of our market area
and were also affected by adverse weather conditions in the fourth quarter
of 2003.
For the fourth quarter of 2003, each of our properties ranked number one
in gaming market share in its respective market. Ameristar Kansas City
regained its market share lead following the completion of the “All New
Ameristar Kansas City” in September 2003, with a 35.7% share of the
market. Ameristar St. Charles posted a market share of 32.0%, which
represents its highest quarterly market share since the opening of the new
facility in August 2002. Ameristar Council Bluffs and Ameristar Vicksburg
extended their long- time market leadership positions, reporting market
shares of 40.1% and 43.5%, respectively. Management believes that
Ameristar Vicksburg benefited from the sale of one of its competitors in
October 2003.
Casino revenues for the fourth quarter of 2003 were $193.6 million, an
increase of $15.3 million, or 8.6%, versus the prior-year quarter,
including increases in slot revenues and table games revenues of 14.1% and
4.8%, respectively. We believe this increase is attributable to the
continued successful execution of our operating strategies. In the fourth
quarter of 2003, non-gaming revenues increased $4.3 million, or 12.6%,
compared to the prior-year quarter. Food and beverage revenues were up
13.8% quarter-over- quarter as a result of the major enhancements to the
Ameristar Kansas City dining and entertainment venues.

For the full year, we earned record net revenues of $782.0 million, an
increase of $84.0 million, or 12.0%, over 2002. The most significant
increase occurred at Ameristar St. Charles, which improved by $66.1
million, or 34.7%, as the property completed its first full year of
operations with the new, much larger facility. Net revenues at Ameristar
Council Bluffs increased by $11.3 million, or 7.8%, as the property
continued to extend its market share lead.

Casino revenues for the year ended December 31, 2003 increased $81.7
million or 12.0%, from 2002, including increases in slot revenues and
table games revenues of 16.5% and 10.4%, respectively. Non-gaming revenues
increased $26.9 million, or 21.9%, in 2003 as compared to the prior year.
The increase in non-gaming revenues was primarily due to a full year of
operations of the new dining and entertainment venues at Ameristar St.
Charles, which were completed in August 2002, and the major enhancements
to the Ameristar Kansas City dining and entertainment venues during 2003.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the 2003 fourth quarter, operating income increased 24.8% from the
prior-year quarter to $31.4 million, notwithstanding a 5.9% increase in
operating expenses, and EBITDA increased 21.3% to $48.3 million. Operating
income and EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2003 included a benefit for
sales and use tax refunds of $1.2 million. Consolidated EBITDA margin
improved dramatically, from 21.9% in the fourth quarter of 2002 to 24.5%
in the fourth quarter of 2003, led by Ameristar Council Bluffs, which
reported an EBITDA margin of 36.1%, an increase of 6.1 percentage points
over the 2002 quarter. Ameristar St. Charles also improved its EBITDA
margin to 31.7% in the 2003 quarter, due to a combination of revenue
growth and increased operating efficiencies. At Ameristar Kansas City,
EBITDA margin improved to 25.0% in the fourth quarter of 2003 from 22.8%
in the fourth quarter of 2002. Management continues to focus on improving
the margins at Ameristar Kansas City through labor efficiencies and other
cost management initiatives. EBITDA margin declined quarter-over-quarter
at both Ameristar Vicksburg and the Jackpot properties due to higher
health care costs and general and administrative expenses. The
improvements to consolidated operating income and consolidated EBITDA were
achieved despite a $2.4 million increase in corporate expense for the same
period. Corporate expense increased substantially as a result of the
continued growth of the Company, the consolidation of certain management
functions at the corporate level and the addition of corporate staff to
position us for future expansion, and we expect this trend to continue in
2004.
Depreciation and amortization expense increased $2.2 million, from $14.7
million in the fourth quarter of 2002 to $16.9 million in the fourth
quarter of 2003, primarily due to the increase in our depreciable assets
resulting from the enhancement and renovation projects at Ameristar Kansas
City and the implementation of coinless slot technology at all of our
properties.
For the full year 2003, operating income and EBITDA reached record levels
of $139.9 million and $203.5 million, respectively. Corporate expense
increased $8.2 million, or 28.8%, in 2003 as a result of the consolidation
of certain management functions at the corporate level, the addition of
corporate staff, higher management bonuses, and costs incurred in 2003
related to the unsuccessful pursuit of a corporate acquisition.

Depreciation and amortization expense increased to $63.6 million for the
year ended December 31, 2003 from $48.7 million in 2002. The increase was
primarily due to a substantial increase in depreciable assets resulting
from the completion of the new St. Charles facility in August 2002 and the
implementation of coinless slot technology at all of our properties.

For the fourth quarter of 2003, net income and diluted earnings per share
were $9.5 million and $0.35 per share, respectively, compared to $5.0
million and $0.19 per share, respectively, for the fourth quarter of 2002.
Diluted earnings per share in the 2003 quarter benefited by $0.03 from the
credit for sales and use tax refunds. Interest expense for the 2003 fourth
quarter was $15.9 million, net of capitalized interest of $0.3 million,
versus interest expense for the 2002 fourth quarter of $17.3 million, net
of capitalized interest of $0.4 million. The decline in interest expense
was due to a decrease in our long-term debt levels and lower interest
rates on our senior credit facilities during 2003. During the three months
ended December 31, 2003, we prepaid $15.0 million of principal under our
senior credit facilities, which resulted in a loss on early retirement of
debt of $0.3 million.
Net income for the full year 2003 increased to $47.6 million from $40.5
million in 2002, and diluted earnings per share improved to $1.76 from
$1.50. Interest expense, net of capitalized interest from our ongoing
construction projects, for 2003 increased to $64.3 million from $51.2
million in 2002 due to a substantial decrease in capitalized interest
following the opening of the new St. Charles facility in August 2002. In
2003, we recorded capitalized interest of $1.6 million, primarily related
to the enhancement and renovation projects at Ameristar Kansas City.
Capitalized interest in 2002 was $17.9 million and was primarily related
to the new St. Charles facility.

Our effective income tax rates for the quarter and year ended December 31,
2003 were 37.7% and 37.0%, respectively, compared to 37.3% and 36.5%,
respectively, for the prior-year periods. The federal statutory rate was
35.0% in each year. The differences from the statutory rate were due to
the effects of certain expenses we incurred which are not deductible for
federal income tax purposes and certain tax credits.

——-