Pansy Ho, MGM win Nevada nod for venture

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am

Pansy Ho Chiu-king (below) and Las Vegas gaming giant MGM Mirage have won preliminary approval from Nevada gaming regulators to proceed with their planned US$1.1 billion Macau casino.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board voted 3-0 recommending an all-clear for MGM in Macau.

The decision follows a two-year investigation into the 'suitability' of Ms Ho and sister Daisy Ho Chiu-fung as partners for MGM, which focused on their links with and independence from their father, gaming magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun.

'There're volumes of controversy surrounding Stanley Ho,' newly appointed board member Randall Sayre said at the Tuesday meeting. 'But he is not in front of me now. I am comfortable with the joint-venture agreement.'

Ms Ho and the United States firm are 50-50 partners in MGM Grand Paradise, which broke ground on the MGM Grand Macau casino in June 2005.

The resort will house a 600-room hotel and casino hall with 345 gaming tables and 1,035 slot machines when it opens in the second half of the year.

Last month, MGM said planning for a second, larger resort in the Cotai area was under way.

The board's recommendation requires final approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission, which is expected to meet this month and, according to analysts, typically follows the board's decisions.

Regulators in New Jersey are conducting a separate investigation into the partnership. The state has yet to schedule its public hearing.

'It's fair to say that the regulators in the US don't hold [Mr] Ho in a very high regard,' MGM Mirage chief executive Terry Lanni told the Associated Press.

'When we crafted this, we crafted it in such a fashion that no third party could have an influence.'