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MGM Mirage Faces Choice Over Macau Casinos and US Gambling Venue

Atlantic City gambling regulators may force MGM Mirage to choose between its partnership in its Macau casino and the one it has in Jersey's Borgata casino.

A dispute with New Jersey regulators may force MGM Mirage to do what the recession so far hasn't, sell one of its casinos. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement has officially requested the New Jersey Casino Control Commission to open hearings on the license of the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, which is jointly owned by MGM and Boyd Gaming.

At issue is MGM Mirage's partnership with Pansy Ho in its Macau gaming ventures. While Ho withstood the regulatory review of Nevada and other regions, New Jersey disqualified her due to concerns about involvement with Asian organized crime.

Ho is the daughter of Stanley Ho, the longtime Macau gaming monopolist whose background is often linked with crooked elements. But MGM says Pansy has no involvement with her father, and is an acceptable candidate for a gaming partner.

With the review coming, MGM may be forced to exit either New Jersey, by selling its shares of the Borgata, or Macau, by selling its part of the MGM Grand Macau. The Borgata is the busiest casino in Atlantic City, while the MGM in Macau trails far behind the operations there by Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands.

Still, MGM is looking to increase its share of Macau's gambling market, and being tops in Jersey is not what it once was. MGM officials said the matter may take a year or more to resolve.

"In the intervening period, we expect nothing to change concerning the company's status and expect that our current investments and operations in New Jersey and elsewhere will continue without disturbance," said an MGM spokesman.

Published on August 2, 2009 by JulieWong

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