hen MGM Mirage decided to enter the Macau casino market, its operators thought the best way to get a jump start in the new locale would be to partner with Pansy Ho, daughter of Stanley Ho, Macau casino billionaire and former holder of the gambling monopoly in the area.
Pansy Ho helped MGM get a license, and she entered into competition with her father’s casinos. MGM Macau opened, and approval for the business relationship between Pansy and MGM came from regulators in Nevada and Mississippi. However, three years later, New Jersey gaming investigators still have not cleared the partnership.
Garden State regulators say they want to be certain that Pansy is independent of Stanley, who is suspected of ties to Chinese triads. Meanwhile, the MGM Macau has become a far more valuable property than any in Atlantic City.
If, after all this time, regulators decline to sign off on the deal between MGM and Pansy, penalties or restrictions could be imposed, or MGM could be forced to decide between its investments in Macau, and those in New Jersey.
MGM co-owns the Borgata Casino with Boyd Gaming, and is putting the property through a us$ 1.7 billion remodeling and expansion. At a time when almost all news has been bad for Atlantic City casinos, losing the Borgata deal may be more than the regulators are prepared to accept.
Clearly, if MGM Mirage has to choose between its connection with the Borgata and its ownership in MGM Macau, Macau will be the choice. Only if investigators turn up compelling evidence of wrong-doing and control of his daughter by Stanley Ho can they then approach the regulators in Las Vegas to withdraw their approval, a move which might catch MGM’s attention.