MGMM to drop US casino for Macau pal

HONG KONG: MGM Mirage has confirmed it will unload its stake in a US casino resort to settle a fight with US gaming regulators over the company’s Macau business partner. MGM said it will sell its half stake in the Borgata hotel-casino in Atlantic City within the next 30 months to keep a joint venture in the glitzy Asian gambling hub, which has now leapfrogged Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenue.

New Jersey’s gaming regulator in May told MGM to cut ties with Pansy Ho, daughter of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho, after deeming her “unsuitable” because of the elder Ho’s alleged links to Macau’s underworld. Ho, who controlled Macau’s gaming sector until it opened to foreign competition in 2002, has denied any ties to organised crime.

Jim Murren, the company’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement posted to MGM’s website late Friday that he disagreed with the regulator’s assessment of 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.

The South China Morning Post has reported that the company is planning a Hong Kong listing for its joint-venture casino resort in the former Portuguese colony, which was returned to China in 1999. Rival US-based casino operators Wynn and Sands have already listed on the bourse in Hong Kong.