he ruling saves Boyd from a special state Casino Control Commission hearing that will scrutinize the partnership between MGM Mirage and Asian businesswoman Pansy Ho for a Macau casino.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement issued a report in May concluding that Ho is "unsuitable" as MGM's partner because of alleged links between Chinese organized crime and her father, billionaire casino mogul Stanley Ho.
MGM and Boyd are co-owners of Borgata, Atlantic City's top-grossing casino. However, the commission ruled Tuesday that since Boyd is not a partner in MGM's Macau venture, it should not be involved in the special hearing.
Under a worst-case scenario, MGM could be forced to relinquish its ownership in Borgata if the commission refuses to grant a New Jersey gaming license to Pansy Ho. The company would also have the option of severing its ties to Ho and keeping its ownership in Borgata, although that would mean the loss of its us$ 1.25 billion MGM Grand Macau casino.
Both MGM and Pansy Ho have strongly denied any wrongdoing or that Stanley Ho is part of their project. They plan to challenge the findings of the Division of Gaming Enforcement report at the commission's special hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. "We certainly want this issue resolved as quickly as possible," MGM attorney Nicholas Casiello Jr. told the commission.
The division's report remains under seal. In oral arguments before the commission, Boyd attorney Paul M. O'Gara said the company wanted to avoid any "overhang" related to the MGM-Pansy Ho controversy.
Boyd was worried that the flap over the Macau venture could complicate things when Borgata comes up for a new five-year casino license next June. But the commission expressed confidence that it would rule on the Macau partnership before Borgata's license hearing is held.