Pinnacle Entertainment (PNK) - Get Report has raised its offer for casino operator Aztar( AZR) in an attempt to fend off rival suitor Columbia Entertainment.

Late Friday, Pinnacle said it would pay $51.00 for each share of Aztar stock, consisting of $47.00 of cash and $4.00 worth of Pinnacle stock. Aztar said it had accepted the new offer.

On March 13 Las Vegas-based Pinnacle announced that would pay $38.00 a share for Aztar. But a bidding war soon ensued, with other companies eager to get ahold of Aztar¿s 34-acre Tropicana site on the Las Vegas strip. Privately held Columbia Entertainment and

Ameristar Casinos

(ASCA)

made offers, although Ameristar dropped out of the bidding last week. Up until Pinnacle made its latest offer, Columbia Entertainment was in the lead with a $50-a-share offer.

In addition to the Las Vegas Tropicana, Aztar owns the Atlantic City, N.J. Tropicana, the Ramada Express casino in Laughlin, Nev. and two riverboat casinos located in Indiana and Missouri.

Aztar shares closed Friday at $49.43, up 68 cents, or 1.4%. Pinnacle shares ended the session down 3 cents at $30.12.