The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is set to launch background investigations on all the companies that filed applications for the casino license that the state will award to the winning applicants. In the case of MGM Resorts International, such an investigation will include its relationship with Macau business partner Pansy Ho.
Commission chairman Stephen Crosby said that the investigation isn’t necessarily an indictment towards MGM Resorts International, but is simply a sweeping attempt to look at all of the applicant’s business partners, including Ho.
“Anybody who is a significant influence in any of our bidders has to be qualified,” Crosby said, as quoted by the Boston Business Journal. “If Pansy Ho or anybody else is going to be a major player, we will have to make sure they are up to snuff.”
This issue shouldn’t come as a surprise for MGM. Background checks are a norm for casino developers applying for licenses in new jurisdictions and it’s no different in Massachusetts, a state where the company has filed an application to secure one of three casino licenses that are up for grabs. Ho’s chronicled business dealings with the company was bound to get looked at, especially after New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement raised doubts about Ho in a 2010 investigation, deeming her unsuitable for licensing in part because her father, Stanley Ho, has been linked to organized crime in Macau, while still maintaining close relations to him.
It’s also worth pointing out that while Pansy Ho is a partner in MGM Grand Macau, she doesn’t have any ownership stake in the company’s proposed casino project in Springfield. Nevertheless, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is still expected to due its due diligence in their background investigations not just on MGM, but on all 11 casino companies that have filed applications in the state and the respective jurisdictions in which they operate their business, which in the case of MGM, includes Macau.
“It will be a full investigation for every one of them, not just MGM, every single company,” commission member Gayle Cameron told the Biz Journal.
For their part, MGM doesn’t appear to be worried about the issues surrounding their relationship with Pansy Ho, something chairman and CEO James Murren alluded to in a phone interview with the daily. “MGM will prevail or not based on the merits of its proposal in Springfield versus other proposals in Western Massachusetts, not for other reasons”.