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Ameristar Mourns Death of Chairman and Ceo Craig H. Neilsen

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Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 20, 2006 – Ameristar Casinos, Inc. (Nasdaq-GS: ASCA) is saddened to announce the death of Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and majority shareholder Craig H. Neilsen. Neilsen passed away unexpectedly in his sleep on November 19 at his home in Las Vegas. He is survived by his son Ray and stepdaughters Jaime and Amanda.

“I am deeply saddened by my Dad’s death,” said Ray Neilsen, Ameristar Co-Chairman of the Board and Vice President of Operations and Special Projects. “Those of us who knew my Dad respect him tremendously as a business leader with inexhaustible passion for our Company. He was an entrepreneur with incredible vision who took the Company public and who led our strong growth. Further, he inspired all of us with the courage, determination and dignity that he demonstrated every day in living with a spinal cord injury. He has left a lasting impact on the lives of so many others through his generosity and community spirit. I can’t begin to express the great personal loss to me and my family, as well as to the entire Ameristar family.”

Mr. Neilsen’s estate plan provides for his stock in Ameristar to be transferred to his private foundation, The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, which is primarily focused on spinal cord injury research and treatment. The successor co-trustees of the Foundation are Ray Neilsen and Ameristar Executive Vice President and Co-Chairman of the Board Gordon R. Kanofsky, both of whom have been involved in the management of the Company for many years. Mr. Neilsen’s desire was for the Foundation to retain a controlling interest in Ameristar for the long term.

Ameristar’s Board of Directors met on November 19 to take action to implement the Company’s management succession plan. John M. Boushy, President of the Company, was elected to succeed Craig Neilsen as Chief Executive Officer, and Ray Neilsen and Mr. Kanofsky were elected to the Board as Co-Chairmen. Senior management expects the transition to be orderly and without any changes in the Company’s key philosophies and strategies.

“I deeply regret the loss of my mentor and friend,” said Kanofsky. “Craig was very well prepared in all of his business transactions, and this is no exception. He thoughtfully laid the foundation for the future ownership and management of the Company. The Board has supreme confidence in John’s ability to lead the Company following in Craig’s footsteps. I look forward to working with John and Ray as we move the Company forward.”

“I feel truly privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Craig,” said Boushy. “In my short time with Ameristar, my admiration for its performance has grown into a strong conviction that the four cornerstone strategies of the business are instrumental to our success. These are and will remain: to create the best facilities, provide the best gaming experiences, build the brand and take a hands-on approach to management. Given the success created by these philosophies, the entire Ameristar management team is committed to build upon and grow the legacy that Craig established.”

Mr. Neilsen was born in 1941 in Logan, Utah. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ameristar since the Company’s inception in 1993. Prior to that time, Mr. Neilsen led the privately held casino hotel organization consisting of Cactus Petes Resort Casino and The Horseshu. These two original properties, with a 50-year history, created the foundation for the current Ameristar business.

Under Mr. Neilsen’s guidance, the Company has grown to seven properties in Nevada, Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri, and Colorado. Ameristar is recognized for the highest quality properties with a diverse range of gaming, dining and entertainment options that provide a total entertainment experience.

Mr. Neilsen was an executive in gaming, real estate development and construction for more than four decades. Prior to focusing his efforts on Ameristar, his real estate development and construction firm, Neilsen & Company, was the largest and most successful in Southern Idaho. That company was responsible for the construction of many of Twin Falls’ major buildings, most recently the upscale Canyon Park lifestyle center.
Mr. Neilsen’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, as well as a Master of Business Administration degree and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah. In 2002, he was honored as “Best Performing CEO” by the American Gaming Association, and in 2005 he was inducted into the American Gaming Association’s Gaming Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was named Outstanding Business Leader by the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. Mr. Neilsen served on the Board of the American Gaming Association.

Forward-Looking Information
This press release contains certain forward-looking information that generally can be identified by the context of the statement or the use of forward-looking terminology, such as “believes,” “estimates,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “expects,” “plans,” “is confident that” or words of similar meaning, with reference to Ameristar or our management. Similarly, statements that describe our future plans, objectives, strategies, financial results or position, operational expectations or goals are forward-looking statements. It is possible that our expectations may not be met due to various factors, many of which are beyond our control, and we therefore cannot give any assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. For a discussion of relevant factors, risks and uncertainties that could materially affect our future results, attention is directed to “Item 1A. Risk Factors” and “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2005 and “Item 2. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2006.

About Ameristar
Ameristar Casinos, Inc. is a leading Las Vegas-based gaming and entertainment company known for its premier properties characterized by innovative architecture, state-of-the-art casino floors and superior dining, lodging and entertainment offerings. Ameristar’s focus on the total entertainment experience and the highest quality guest service has earned it a leading market share position in each of the markets in which it operates. Founded in 1954 in Jackpot, Nevada, Ameristar has been a public company since November 1993. The Company has a portfolio of seven casinos in six markets: Ameristar St. Charles (greater St. Louis); Ameristar Kansas City; Ameristar Council Bluffs (Omaha, Nebraska and southwestern Iowa); Ameristar Vicksburg (Jackson, Mississippi and Monroe, Louisiana); Ameristar Black Hawk (Denver metropolitan area); and Cactus Petes and the Horseshu in Jackpot, Nevada (Idaho and the Pacific Northwest).

Kathy Callahan
Director of Communications
Ameristar Casinos, Inc.

Visit Ameristar Casinos’ web site at (which shall not be deemed to be incorporated in or a part of this news release)

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