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Arnold M. Knightly

Boyd Gaming won't be part of MGM hearings

24 September 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Boyd Gaming Corp. has received clarification from New Jersey regulators that the company will not be part of the hearings involving its partner in the Borgata in Atlantic City.

New Jersey's casino regulators said in July they reopened a licensing hearing into MGM Mirage's suitability to hold a gaming license in the state because of company's Macau partnership with Pansy Ho, daughter of casino magnate Stanley Ho, who is alleged to have ties to organized crime in Hong Kong. The Borgata is a 50-50 venture between MGM Mirage and Boyd Gaming, with Boyd Gaming managing the property.

New Jersey attorney general's Division of Gaming Enforcement asked regulators to reopen the licensing hearing "for the exclusive purpose of examining the qualifications of MGM Mirage."

Boyd Gaming, however, filed a petition with the New Jersey Casino Control Commission to learn how much the investigation into MGM Mirage will involve Boyd Gaming.

"What we were looking for is clarification that we would not be involved in that hearing," Boyd Gaming spokesman David Strow said. "And that's was the commission gave."

In her decision, commission chairwoman Linda Kassekert assured that Boyd Gaming's qualification is not at issue in the reopened license hearing, noting the investigators' report "indicates Boyd had no involvement with MGM's joint venture in Macau."

Kassekert said Tuesday's assurance is based on information now available to the commission, but that the commission could revisit the ruling if new information becomes available.

"The commission simply stated that this matter doesn't involve us in any way," Strow said. "We're gratified by that ruling. We have said on numerous occasions that this is a matter that involves MGM and Pansy Ho and the commission agreed."

Strow said the hearing on MGM Mirage should not affect Borgata's day-to-day operations.

Ho owns 50 percent of MGM Grand Macau, a $1.25 billion Chinese gaming resort. MGM Mirage has said it was advised to "disengage itself from any business association," with Ho in a special report by the New Jersey gaming division.

Ho is an unsuitable partner and that MGM Mirage's efforts to comply with New Jersey's licensing requirements had been deficient, the division told MGM Mirage.

No date has been set for the hearing.

If the commission refuses to license Ho, MGM Mirage could be forced to sever its ties with Ho or sell its ownership in the Borgata.

Boyd Gaming won't be part of MGM hearings is republished from