Las Vegas casino operator MGM Mirage is looking for buyers for its 50 per cent stake in a New Jersey casino after gaming regulators in the US state last year found MGM's Macau partnership with Pansy Ho Chiu-king 'unsuitable'. MGM has been shopping its stake in Atlantic City's 2,771-room Borgata casino hotel to several financial investors and casino companies, including the property's co-owner, Boyd Gaming, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing two people with knowledge of the situation. MGM has been asking US$700-US$850 million for the stake, but interested buyers feel the business is worth more like US$500-US$550 million, the Journal said. The New Jersey attorney general's Division of Gaming Enforcement last May concluded a four-year investigation into MGM's US$1.25 billion Macau joint venture with Ho, daughter of gaming magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun. It recommended that the tie-up be found 'unsuitable' and MGM 'be directed to disengage itself from any business association with its Macau joint venture partner', the US firm said in a stock exchange announcement at the time. 'Stanley Ho is a wealthy Chinese businessman who has been the subject of numerous public allegations suggesting that he has ties to Asian organised crime,' the New Jersey attorney general's office said in its annual report for 2005, the year it launched the investigation. 'The investigation focuses on the relationship of Pansy Ho and her father,' it said. Stanley Ho has repeatedly denied any links to organised crime. Nevada, Mississippi and other US gaming jurisdictions had previously given MGM's Macau partnership a green light. The New Jersey investigators' findings have yet to be upheld by the state's politically appointed Casino Control Commission, which is expected to schedule a public hearing on the matter before MGM's gaming licence comes up for renewal in June. But MGM since May has been facing the prospect of having to exit either New Jersey or Macau. Given its recent moves to begin auditioning investment banks to work on a Hong Kong stock market listing for the Macau business, an exodus from Atlantic City looks increasingly likely. The Borgata is a profitable casino with a leading position in a declining market. Atlantic City faces keen competition from new casinos in neighbouring Pennsylvania. Casino winnings at the property fell 5.9 per cent last year to US$738.78 million despite the addition of a new hotel tower, according to official data. The situation in Macau is reversed: while the 700-room MGM Grand Macau has struggled since opening in December 2007, casino revenues across Macau have soared 43.8 per cent in the two years the property has been in business and stood at 119.37 billion patacas last year - nearly four times those of New Jersey. Boyd has the right to match any offer for MGM's stake in the Borgata, which features a casino with nearly 4,000 slot machines and almost 200 gaming tables. Borgata leases its 10-acre site from MGM, which owns another 120 acres surrounding the property in Atlantic City's Renaissance Point area. It was unclear whether the surrounding land is also up for sale, or whether MGM's status as a landlord would be impacted by a potential negative finding from the regulator on its suitability as a casino operator.