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Ameristar Gets Down to Business in East Chicago

21 November 2007

Veteran gaming industry executive Timothy D. Wright knows the casino business inside and out. It's one of the reasons the hierarchy of Ameristar appointed him senior vice president and general manager of Resorts East Chicago as the first order of business after officially taking over the property nearly two months ago.

The process of change has already begun, but according to Wright it's going to a gradual one to keep in step with the plans Ameristar has mapped out for its highly anticipated entry into this market.

"While we're looking within a 12-month window to have the re-branding of the property complete, in the months to come you'll start seeing some significant improvements to the property from an aesthetic standpoint," Wright told me. "In addition to that, we'll be upgrading our slot product, and as well upgrading and updating our table games product."

How that translates into better games and looser slots remains to be seen, although it can't be any worse. Under the previous owner, Resorts International, East Chicago lagged behind the eight other casino destinations in the Chicago area in slot payback.

Wright wouldn't get into specifics on what the changes may be, but he hinted that the formula for success that Ameristar has used so effectively at its other locations around the country will be put in force in this market.

"We have a pretty successful program with our games mix," he said. One of the things Ameristar is big on is engaging our guests. As we continue moving in new products, they'll be along the lines of what our guests appreciate and what they like to play."

Wright's casino industry experience includes an extensive background in food and beverage. His stints in an executive capacity at the Ameristar destinations in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri will serve him well in his new capacity.

"Our guests are going to see an incredible upgrading to our food and beverage experiences," Wright said. "At our Missouri properties we're very well known for 'the seducing of the belly' as I like to call it. We're actually going to be building an on-site bakery to complement all of our dining venues."

The initial phase of the transition process has been dedicated to the Resorts employee base, which, as Wright observed, is experiencing the third ownership change since the property opened as Showboat Mardi Gras Casino in 1996.

"Ameristar practices a hands-on management approach," Wright noted. "I've observed tremendous enthusiasm from our Team Members. The investment during the first few weeks wasn't on any material items on-property, but to the Team Member base and introducing them to the Ameristar way of doing things."

Ameristar Casinos has long-range expansion plans for the property, including a new single-level gaming facility. Company executives, however, are keeping an eye on what may happen in the Chicago area in the way of casino expansion on the Illinois side.

The company has a proven track record of investment in the properties it owns. A massive expansion of Ameristar St. Charles in Missouri is in its final phase.

CASINO NEWS: A stand alone high limit progressive slot jackpot that went unclaimed for years at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin has finally been hit. It popped for the first time ever on Monday, Oct. 29, for Dimitrios K. of Beloit, Wisconsin. After watching the jackpot symbols line up one-by-one across the pay line on the two-coin $25 Five-Times Pay machine, the bells and whistles went off and Dimitrios discovered he had won $845,388.40 for his $50 wager. The progressive meter was reset at $250,000.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp