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Regulators Instruct MGM Mirage to Drop Macau Casino Partner

New Jersey gambling regulators found MGM Mirage's Macau casino partner, Pansy Ho, unsuitable and ordered the gaming company to end association with her.

MGM Mirage revealed yesterday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission it had been notified that New Jersey regulators had rejected its application to approve Pansy Ho as a partner in Macau casino gambling holdings. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement advised the Casino Control Commission to tell MGM to end association with Ho, the daughter of erstwhile Macau gambling monopolist Stanley Ho.

The division conducted a four-year investigation, resulting in a seventy-four page confidential report to the commission. A hearing will be set, at which MGM will have the opportunity to refute accusations against Ho.

"While we disagree with the recommendation of the report, we look forward to presenting our position at the hearing," said MGM spokesman Gordon Absher.

It is uncertain how far the commission will push the issue. If Ho continues to be a problem, MGM may be forced to sell either its half of the MGM Grand Macau, owned with Ho, or its half of the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, owned with Boyd Gaming.

But the matter may run deeper. Although Pansy Ho was already deemed acceptable by Nevada regulators, new evidence may reverse that finding.Dennis Neilander, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said if the decision was due to a different interpretation of the same facts, there'd be no problem.

"If there was evidence not provided to us, then there would be a concern," Neilander said. If the report contains new facts that cause a Nevada review, selling the MGM Grand Macau may be the only option for the gaming operator.

Published on May 20, 2009 by MattMiller

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