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NJ: Asian casino boss Stanley Ho has mob ties in China

Updated Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | 1:17 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Casino billionaire Stanley Ho and daughter Pansy Ho attend a groundbreaking ceremony for an MGM Mirage casino in 2005 in Macau.

New Jersey casino regulators say Asian casino mogul Stanley Ho has extensive ties to Chinese organized crime and lets them "operate and thrive" inside his casinos.

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement also says his daughter, Pansy Ho, is dependent on her father and his money.

The division concluded that Pansy Ho is an "unsuitable" business partner of MGM Mirage in the Chinese enclave of Macau.

Rather than cut ties to Ho and the lucrative casino they jointly operate, MGM is selling its 50 percent interest in Atlantic City’s top casino, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The company admits no wrongdoing.

The Hos did not immediately return requests for comment.

MGM Mirage announced Wednesday that the New Jersey Gaming Control Commission approved a settlement agreement with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement under which it will sell its 50 percent stake in the Borgata and related leased land in Atlantic City.

"The DGE's report acknowledges there is no evidence that Pansy Ho has engaged in any wrongdoing or been accused of any illegal activity," MGM Mirage Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said in a statement. "Gaming regulators in the other jurisdictions where we operate casinos are well aware of this matter, had access to the same information as the New Jersey gaming regulators, and have all either determined that the company's relationship with Pansy Ho is appropriate or that further action was not necessary."

The Borgata is a 50-50 joint venture between MGM Mirage and Las Vegas-based casino operator, Boyd Gaming. MGM Mirage's sale of its stake in the hotel-casino means the company will be leaving the New Jersey market.

"The Borgata is the most successful property in the Atlantic City marketplace, and we expect there will be strong interest in this valuable asset. The agreement provides ample time for an orderly disposition of our interest to maximize its value to the MGM shareholders," Murren said.

Last month, MGM Mirage announced it was talking with its lenders and New Jersey regulators about putting its stake in the Borgata into a divestiture trust.

Under the settlement terms, MGM Mirage’s interest in the Borgata and the land will be placed into a divestiture trust and the interest is to be sold within 30 months.

“We hold a right of first refusal on any sale of MGM Mirage’s Borgata interest and we will monitor the divestiture process closely and act in the best interest of our company,” Boyd Gaming President and CEO Keith Smith said during an earnings call earlier this month.

Smith added that the company is still pleased with its 50 percent stake in the Borgata and it continues to be business as usual at the hotel-casino.

MGM Mirage will be permitted to reapply for a New Jersey gaming license beginning 30 months after the completion of the sale.

The Associated Press and Sun reporter Steve Green contributed to this report.

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