MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts, all have their eye on building a casino in Toronto. But a recent report by The Globe and Mail suggests that all three operators could be have a hard time getting a license to operate in Ontario because of their track record, especially involving corruption and bribery allegations in Macau, China.
Though all three have denied the respective allegations thrown their way, the Canadian province’s licensing authorities could weigh those allegations against them, something regulators have the authority to do if they find “reasonable ground” to believe that a casino has the potential to not act with “integrity, honesty, or in the public interest”. While the biggest voices behind these questions have been casino opponents in Toronto who are trying to dissuade decision makers from granting any casino licenses to anybody, the possibility of the three operator’s respective histories could put them behind the eight ball if regulators do decide to grant a casino license for Toronto.
The three operators have all been investigated for alleged improprieties, although most of the accusations thrown their way have yet to be proven. MGM Resorts International, which has already introduced its plans to build an integrated resort and casino at the waterfront location of Exhibition Place, is dealing with accusations involving its supposed involvement with an organized crime ring in Asia, something the company has vehemently denied but has nonetheless forced it to abandon its business in Atlantic City.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands Corp., which has also filed an application to build a casino at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is in the middle of its own investigation regarding violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, something it already owned up to earlier this month when it told the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it “probably” violated the FCPA after determining that there were “likely violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions” of the FCPA.
And then there’s Wynn Resorts, who was in the crosshairs of the US SEC over claims by former partner Kazuo Okada regarding a $135 million donation to the University of Macau that effectively caused the deterioration of their relationship. The Nevada Gaming Control Board eventually dismissed the case after an extensive probe found “no Nevada regulatory violations”. But even if Wynn did win that battle, it still opened up a can of worms that led to the ridiculously messy legal battle with the Japanese tycoon that still persists, in one form or another, to this day.
Ultimately, the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission will have final say on whether senior officials from these casinos pass its requisite ethical standards, something commission spokeswoman Lisa Murray told the Globe and Mail the commission will take very, very seriously. “We would be contacting other jurisdictions to see if there are any issues that might preclude the applicant from being issued a registration,” she said.
Whether that means good news or bad news for MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts is still to be determined.