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Mississippi approves Pinnacle-Ameristar deal

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. said Thursday that the Mississippi Gaming Commission has unanimously approved its proposed acquisition of Ameristar Casinos Inc.

The companies announced the roughly $869 million deal — or $2.8 billion including debt — in 2012. The deal could potentially more than double Pinnacle's size.

Pinnacle owns seven U.S. casinos and a racetrack, and has another casino under development. The Las Vegas company operates in Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana. Ameristar, also based in Las Vegas, has eight casinos in the United States, including Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Mississippi, Indiana and Nevada.

The deal had the approval of the boards of both Las Vegas operators but still faces further regulatory approval, including the Federal Trade Commission, before it can be completed.

Earlier this week, Pinnacle said it reached an agreement in principle with the FTC under which it will sell Ameristar's casino hotel development project in Lake Charles, La., as well as its own Lumiere Place Casino, HoteLumiere and the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis. The agreement remains subject to the negotiation of a consent order, commission approval and regulatory gaming approvals.

Pinnacle said Thursday it is on track to close the deal in its third quarter.

Shares of Pinnacle fell 95 cents, a nearly 5 percent drop, to close at $18.65 Thursday amid a broader market decline. Its stock was unchanged in after-hours trading following the announcement of the regulatory approval.

Ameristar shares fell 3 cents to close at $26.30 and were unchanged after hours.