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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson

Jeff Simpson on a good, fair decision made by the Gaming Control Board

5 March 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- I wanted to share a few impressions from last week's Gaming Control Board hearing that recommended approving Pansy Ho as a suitable business partner for MGM Mirage in Macau.

As far as I'm concerned, the Control Board made the right call. Sure, Pansy's father, Stanley Ho, has had some unsavory business associations. But Nevada regulators aren't licensing Stanley Ho - or Pansy Ho, for that matter. They are merely deciding whether she will be a suitable business partner for MGM Mirage.

Nevada gaming law (NRS 463.720) prohibits Nevada license holders from failing to conduct foreign casino operations "in accordance with the standards of honesty and integrity required for gaming in this state."

License holders are also barred from engaging in an activity or entering into an association that "reflects or tends to reflect discredit or disrepute upon this state or gaming in this state."

MGM Mirage's partnership with Pansy Ho does not reflect discredit or disrepute on Nevada.

By all accounts she is an accomplished businesswoman in her own right.

Sure, Pansy Ho has benefited from her father's wealth and position. But there is no evidence linking her to illegal activity.

The most critical element I took from Tuesday's hearing was the list of business actions on which the 50-50 partners must agree. MGM Mirage and Pansy Ho each have an effective veto, not just on all significant business decisions, but on many more mundane matters.

With that structure, MGM has the ability to protect its and Nevada's good names.

That was the most persuasive element of last week's hearing: MGM Mirage has effective control over its partnership in Macau.

And that fact was enough for the Gaming Control Board. Absent any damning evidence linking Pansy Ho to illegal activities, regulators rightly count on MGM Mirage to prevent any problems in Macau.

I think that's a good bet.

A second impression from the hearing and the issues surrounding it is that critics of Pansy Ho, and, for that matter, of Stanley Ho, have very short memories.

We Nevadans shouldn't be so sanctimonious when it comes to gambling bosses with unsavory reputations.

There are a lot of prominent Nevada casino executives whose fathers would have a hard time being licensed today. And it wasn't that long ago when organized crime exerted a lot of influence over - and skimmed a lot of money from - the state's casinos.

Macau is beginning a new era of casino operations, with major, Las Vegas-inspired casinos replacing the old-school gambling parlors that used to dominate. Macau is a lucrative market for our Las Vegas-based operators, and we should encourage our companies to participate in the venue, setting a good example for the evolution of Macau.

• • •

Defending World Series of Poker main event champion Jamie Gold recently settled a lawsuit that challenged his refusal to split his $12 million winner's check with Bruce Crispin Leyser after Gold reportedly promised Leyser half of his winnings.

The poker community was tough on Gold, and rightfully so.

If reports suggesting that Leyser agreed to take $4 million in order to drop the lawsuit are correct, poker players can revise their opinions of Gold.

Now they'll know he's a man of two-thirds of his word.

Jeff Simpson is business editor of the Las Vegas Sun and executive editor of sister publication In Business Las Vegas.

Jeff Simpson on a good, fair decision made by the Gaming Control Board is republished from