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US – MGM cleared to operate in Atlantic City again

By - 11 September 2014

MGM Resorts International has been cleared to operate in Atlantic City following a five year battle with the New Jersey Casino Control Commission who was concerned over the operators partnership in Macau with Pansy Ho.

The move to reinstate MGM comes as a host of casinos close in Atlantic City due to tough market conditions and neighbouring competition.

The commission believed in 2009 that Pansy Ho wasn’t a ‘suitable’ partner for MGM, due to alleged links between her father, Stanley Ho and organised crime in Asia.

However, in a 3-0 vote, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission found MGM qualified to hold a gaming license, paving the way for the company to regain its 50 per cent ownership in Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

Matthew Levinson, the commission’s Chairman, said: “I want to say that I welcome MGM back into the New Jersey gaming industry. The company is one of the leaders in the gaming and entertainment industry, and I believe it is a very positive sign for Atlantic City’s future.”

Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, added: “After a thorough and comprehensive review, we are gratified by the unanimous vote of confidence from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. MGM Resorts International welcomes the opportunity to be an active contributing member of the New Jersey gaming marketplace through our 50 per cent ownership of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Borgata is a best in class resort and, under the insightful leadership of Boyd Gaming, has set a new standard in Atlantic City. We look forward to working together with our co-owners on Borgata’s continued success.”

MGM’s interest in Borgata is presently held in a divestiture trust. Under the terms of the trust agreement and the stipulation of settlement with the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), the trustee will prepare a final accounting for approval by the DGE and, thereafter, for approval by the Casino Control Commission. Upon receipt of the required approvals, MGM’s interest in Borgata, the approximately $86 million of cash and investments, and the title to certain leased real property in Atlantic City in the trust will be transferred to MGM. Authority to grant the requisite administrative approvals has been delegated by the Commission to its Chairman, and receipt of the approvals is presently expected to occur in the next 30 days.

Keith Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boyd Gaming, added: “Boyd Gaming is pleased with today’s decision by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. MGM Resorts has been an excellent and valued partner at Borgata over the years.

“Boyd Gaming remains the managing partner of Borgata, which has been the case since the formation of our joint venture. Accordingly, day-to-day operations at the property will be unchanged. We look forward to continuing to build on Borgata’s long track record of success as the region’s leading entertainment resort destination.”

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement said Pansy Ho’s influence on the Macau partnership was no longer as strong following a restructuring of what was previously a 50-50 partnership. She is now only a minority owner.

David Rebuck, the Division’s Director, said MGM had taken ‘substantial steps’ to limit Pansy Ho’s influence and that the operator had ‘overcome an area of significant conflict.’

MGM will now look at developing 72 acres of unused land that it owns next to Borgata and another 14 acres of property opposite the Golden Nugget Atlantic City.

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