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Ameristar Pitches Rival Massachusetts Casino Development

Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA) announced details for a planned resort in western Massachusetts, with a development it said could be open 18 months ahead of rivals.

The Las Vegas-based regional casino operator unveiled the design for a $910 million resort in Springfield, 90 miles (145 kilometers) west of Boston. The project would create 2,000 union construction jobs and 2,300 permanent ones, the company said in a e-mailed statement today.

“Ameristar owns all 40 acres, which have been cleared and are immediately ready for construction,” Gordon Kanofsky, Ameristar’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “With no displacement of existing residents or businesses, we will have a 12- to 18-month head start on other proposals.”

Ameristar is among at least four companies seeking the one license to operate a casino in the western part of the state since the legislature legalized casino gambling last year. MGM Resorts International (MGM), Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) and the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority are also seeking the western license, according to Bloomberg Industries research. Two other casinos will be permitted, in the eastern and central parts of Massachusetts.

Applicants face a two-step approval process with an initial deadline in December, according to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The local communities involved must also approve the projects.

The population and household income in the greater Springfield market is larger than that of St. Louis, a market where Ameristar operates, the company said in a presentation. The six casinos produced $1.1 billion in revenue in the St. Louis market in 2011, according to Bloomberg Industries.

Casinos in Massachusetts are expected to take business from operators in neighboring Connecticut. Foxwoods Resort Casino’s venue in Mashantucket, Connecticut, gets 31 percent of its customers from Massachussets, while Mohegan Sun’s venue in Montville, Connecticut, gets 18 percent, according to a presentation by Mohegan Sun.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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