As the battle for St. Louis heats up, the opening for the main component of the $265 million expansion project at Ameristar Casinos' (NASDAQ:ASCA) St. Charles property has been delayed.

On Friday evening, Ameristar announced that the opening of the 400-room all-suite hotel and spa -- originally scheduled for this month -- would be delayed in its entirety into next year. In its third-quarter earnings release last month, the company said it hoped to have half of the rooms available for a December opening. The company now expects a revised project timeline in the "near future."

The other elements of Ameristar's project remain on schedule. On Dec. 27, the property will see the opening of Home, a state-of-the-art nightclub brand which my more club-savvy friends say will be the premier destination club in the region. The casino will see the addition of a new "chic" circle bar and a revamped high-limit gaming area. Also, a new five-lane road leading to the property entrance is nearing completion.

More than half of the spaces of the second parking garage on the property have been available for the past year or so, while the new 55,000 square-foot conference center opened last fall.

The new additions should help vault Ameristar back to the top of the St. Louis market; chief rival Harrah's Entertainment (NYSE:HET) has led the market since late 2005, following its own series of expansions and renovations. Meanwhile, new rival Pinnacle Entertainment (NASDAQ:PNK) opens its highly anticipated $507 million Lumiere Place casino and hotel project in downtown St. Louis this week, which should lock down the east side of the market. I expect the Pinnacle project to steal revenue from the newly revamped Casino Queen across the river in East St. Louis, with a more moderate impact on the Ameristar and Harrah's properties to the northwest.

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Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of Ameristar Casinos and Pinnacle Entertainment. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.