What will happen in AyCee now that Ho must go?

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement's just-released finding of casino tycoon Pansy Ho  to be an "unsuitable" business partner for MGM Mirage may shake things up in Atlantic City. 

The DGE's 74-page report concluded that Ho cannot be part of any company doing business in Atlantic City because her 86-year-old father, Chinese gaming overlord Stanley Ho, has long been suspected of ties with the country's organized crime interests.

Why this matters to the DGE is because MGM Mirage is Boyd Gaming's (silent-but-equal) partner in Borgata, the almost-six-year-old pleasure dome that is what comes closest to being a successful casino-hotel operation in Atlantic City these days (meaning its profits, while on an extended decline, haven't plummeted like everyone else's).

The choice for MGM Mirage of course, is whether or not to sever ties with Ho or Borgata. It's a tricky decision that could have significant consequences for AyCee.

The reason MGM Mirage may stick with Ho is because she is their partner in the company's Macau, China operation, which represents a massive investment for the Vegas-based gaming empire, and which is a huge gaming market.. On the other hand, The Big B is MGM Mirage's foothold in Atlantic City--still the nation's second-largest gambling jurisdiction.

It's much too early to make any kind of call, but if MGM Mirage--which, at one pre-economic meltdown point was going to build a $5 billion complex adjacent to Borgata--walks away from that property, my guess is that it will also say whatever the word for "adios" is in Chinese to Atlantic City once and for all. Which means any chances of a mega-resort ever being developed on that 70-plus-acre site (which are pretty slim to begin with) would get exponentially smaller.

Continue Reading