Friday, July 31, 2009 | 4:20 p.m.
MGM Mirage and Boyd Gaming Corp. today said New Jersey regulators are moving ahead with plans for a hearing on whether MGM Mirage's partner in Macau is a suitable business partner for the gaming company.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement recommended in May that the New Jersey Casino Control Commission find Pansy Ho to be unsuitable and that MGM Mirage, as a New Jersey casino licensee, be directed to disengage itself from any association with Ho.
MGM Mirage and Boyd, both based in Las Vegas, are partners in the Borgata hotel-casino in Atlantic City.
The New Jersey commission in June 2005 renewed their joint venture's gaming license for a five-year term.
Boyd said a letter from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement requesting that the commission reopen the Borgata licensing hearing "noted that the division had found that Boyd Gaming had no involvement with MGM Mirage's development activities in Macau ..."
Boyd said the letter "also expressed the division's confidence that the commission could thoroughly examine the issues" raised in the report on Ho as to MGM Mirage's qualifications "without negatively affecting the (joint venture) casino license or Boyd Gaming."
MGM Mirage said that during the evidentiary hearing on the allegations it will be able to present evidence and legal arguments.
In June, an MGM Mirage executive for international development said MGM Mirage would challenge the report calling Ho, daughter of Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho, unsuitable because of her father's ties to organized crime.
MGM Mirage hasn't commented on what it would do if the Pansy Ho recommendation is upheld, but it's believed that because it and Ho operate in Macau under a subconcession from the Macau government, MGM Mirage wouldn't try to buy out Ho's interest.
That means an unfavorable ruling to MGM Mirage could require it to divest either the New Jersey or Macau investment.