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Yesterday, Wednesday December 20, a buyout offer was approved by Harrah's Entertainment (HET) with the stock up around 23% for the last three months. Yet, on the same day, Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. (TRMP) was down over 13% just for the day, due to its loss on its bid for a Pennsylvania license.

As you can see, the gambling stocks (or ‘gaming stocks’ as the ‘politically correct’ reference that the companies prefer to be called) can be extremely volatile, yet very profitable opportunities abound. There are rumors on the street of additional gambling (I mean gaming) stock takeovers. (By the way, the reason I don’t like to refer to these stocks as ‘gaming stocks’ is because I consider Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI), companies which make electronic games, as gaming stocks.)

Where do you begin to look for potential takeover stocks in the casino field? Here is a list of some of the major players in the field along with a guide to where they do business.

Ameristar (NASDAQ:ASCA) - Owns casinos in Missouri, Iowa, Mississippi, Louisiana, Colorado, and Nevada. Emphasizes signature restaurant concepts including steakhouses and big buffets.

Aztar Corp. (AZR) - Owns casinos in New Jersey, Nevada, Missouri, and Indiana, including riverboat casinos.

Boyd Gaming Corp. (NYSE:BYD) - Owns casinos in Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, and Louisiana.

Harrah's Entertainment Inc. (HET) - Just agreed to be taken over by Texas Pacific Group and Apollo Management L.P.

IGT (NYSE:IGT) - Manufactures and sells gambling machines, including slot machines, wide area progressive jackpot systems, video lottery terminals, and video bingo machines.

Isle of Capri (NASDAQ:ISLE) - Owns casinos in Mississippi, Louisiana, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Bahamas, and England.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) - Owns and develops casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada and Macao, which is part of the People’s Republic of China.

MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGM) - Owns a lot of the ‘famous’ Las Vegas casinos and hotels including Bellagio, MGM Grand Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor, TI, New York-New York, Excalibur, Monte Carlo, Circus Circus Las Vegas, Slots-A-Fun, and Boardwalk. It also owns casinos in Michigan, Mississippi New Jersey, and Illinois.

Penn National Gaming Inc. (NASDAQ:PENN) - Owns casinos (and some racetracks) in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ontario, Canada.

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. (NYSE:PNK) - This was the original Hollywood Park Turf Club that was founded in 1935. They own casinos in Indiana, Nevada, Louisiana, Missouri, California, Argentina, and the Bahamas.

Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS) - Offers products and services to the lottery and pari-mutuel wagering industries. They also operate pari-mutuel wagering in Connecticut, Maine; and the Netherlands.

Station Casinos (NYSE:STN) - Owns several smaller hotels and casinos in the Las Vegas area.

Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. (TRMP) - Owns and operates Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, and Trump Marina Hotel Casino in New Jersey.

WMS Industries Inc. (NYSE:WMS-OLD) - Manufactures and sells gaming machines and video lottery terminals.

Wynn Resorts Ltd. (NASDAQ:WYNN) - Owns and operates the Wynn Las Vegas casino in Nevada and the Wynn Macau, in Macau, China.

Disclosure: Author owns shares in LVS and TRMP.

Source: A Quick Guide to the Major Gambling Stocks