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New Chairman Named at Ameristar

When Ray Neilsen resigned as chairman of the board of Ameristar Casinos last month, it ended a long run of family involvement that began when his grandfather of the same name took control the company in 1967, when it controlled Cactus Pete’s at the California-Nevada border. When Craig Neilsen took control following the death of his father, he ran the company until his death in 2006, after surviving a devastating auto accident that crippled him in 1985.

Board member Luther Cochrane was named chairman of Ameristar. CEO Gordon Kanofsky resigned as vice chairman, but remains a board member. The changes come less than a month after the company purchased 26 million shares from the estate of Craig Neilsen at $17.50 a share. The $457 million purchase represents about 45 percent of the company’s equity. The estate retains a 17 percent ownership in Ameristar.

 Ray Neilsen will devote his time to the family charity that is dedicated to research into spinal cord injuries.