Ameristar casino sold to Pinnacle Entertainment
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 14, 2013 12:38PM
Ameristar casino. | File Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2013 7:46AM
EAST CHICAGO — Guests and employees should experience few changes at the Ameristar Casino here, despite the completion of its acquisition Wednesday by Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment Group, a casino executive said.
Even the name will remain the same, said Matt Schuffert, senior vice president and general manager of the East Chicago casino.
“There probably will be very little change at the property level, although we’re always looking for new team members. We’re looking to hire 40 to 50 people at this time,” Schuffert said.
He said while it’s very early in the transition process, he’s excited about the merger both for the guests and employees.
“Guests will be offered multiple gaming choices in the state and across the country, and there will be more career opportunities for employees. There have always been opportunities for team members to grow, but this merger now doubles the company in size,” Schuffert said.
A Pinnacle executive concurred.
“We are delighted to announce the successful completion of this transaction marking a beginning to a merger of two dynamic companies that will be even better together,” Pinnacle Entertainment CEO Anthony Sanfilippo said. “With this transaction, we have doubled the size of our company, the gaming and entertainment options for our guests, and career opportunities for our team members.”
As a result of the $2.8 billion transaction, which includes assumed debt, Pinnacle will grow from eight to 16 properties in nine states.
Schuffert said with the merger, Pinnacle now has more than 15,000 team members, 13 hotels and more than 70 restaurants in its operation.
The East Chicago casino employs a little more than 1,100 people. In addition to the 53,492-square-foot gaming boat that has about 40 table games and nearly 2,000 electronic devices, the casino also includes a 288-room luxury hotel, Schuffert said.
In connection with the closing of the merger, some employees, including Schuffert, were granted awards of options and restricted stock units as incentives to continue their employment under Pinnacle. Schuffert was granted 20,000 options and 8,000 restricted stock units.
Schuffert said he plans to stay with the newly-merged organization.
“I’m not going anywhere. I was born and raised in the area,” Schuffert said.