Monday, March 15, 2010

MGM picks Ho, will quit Atlantic City - 15th March 2010

HONG KONG: MGM Mirage has confirmed it will sell its stake in a US casino resort to settle a fight with US gambling regulators over its Macau business partner.

MGM said it would sell its half stake in the Borgata hotel-casino in Atlantic City within the next 30 months so that it could keep a joint venture in the glitzy Asian gambling hub, which has now leapfrogged Las Vegas in terms of gambling revenue.

New Jersey's gambling regulator told MGM in May to cut its ties with Pansy Ho, daughter of the gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, after deeming her unsuitable because of the elder Ho's alleged links to Macau's underworld.

One of his other children, Lawrence Ho, is James Packer's partner in Macau. They were forced to distance their venture Melco International from Stanley Ho in 2006 to obtain regulatory approval from Australian authorities.

Lawrence Ho, who controlled Macau's gambling sector until it was opened to foreign competition in 2002, has denied any ties to organised crime.

MGM Mirage's chairman and chief executive, Jim Murren, said in a statement posted on MGM's website on Friday that he disagreed with the regulator's assessment of Mr Ho.

But he added that the "best course of action for our company and its shareholders is to settle this matter and move forward with the compelling growth opportunities we have in Macau".

MGM operates casinos in several US states, including Nevada, Mississippi and Michigan.

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