Nevada Near Review of MGM-Macau Venture

Carson City, Nevada (AP) — Nevada gambling regulators are drawing closer to a public hearing on MGM Mirage’s casino venture in Macau with businesswoman Pansy Ho, daughter of Hong Kong billionaire Stanley Ho — but may drop tentative plans for a late-February session.

While the state Gaming Control Board had discussed holding the special meeting at the end of February in Las Vegas, following its regular Feb. 7 meeting in Carson City, The Associated Press learned that new information provided to regulators may result in a delay.

MGM Mirage is building the USD 1 billion MGM Grand Macau in Macau, and the company filed an application last year with the Control Board to find Pansy Ho suitable as a joint venture partner.

When the suitability hearing is held, Control Board members are expected to raise questions about Pansy Ho’s independence from her father, and seek assurances that Stanley Ho — who has denied any connection to organized crime — won’t be associated with the casino venture.

The Control Board’s recommendation on the application will go to its parent state Gaming Commission, which will have final say.

At a Control Board meeting earlier this month, MGM announced formation of a special compliance panel that will be independent of the casino company and will work to ensure the company is in line with all laws and regulations.

While the announcement coincides with movement on the Pansy Ho suitability application, MGM Mirage chairman Terry Lanni has said there was no single factor in forming the new compliance panel.

Members of the committee include former Gaming Commission member Bill Urga; Richard Morgan, dean of the UNLV Boyd School of Law; and retired FBI agent Ellen Knowlton, who ran the FBI‘s Las Vegas office.

Macau has been booming since the Chinese government broke up Stanley Ho’s 40-year-long casino monopoly in the former Portuguese enclave and in 2003 began welcoming major U.S. casino operators.

MGM Mirage wasn’t on the initial list of those granted gambling concessions, but managed to get into the market through a subconcession from Ho to the partnership between Pansy Ho and MGM Mirage.