Regulators expected to grill Pansy

Feb 27, 2007 5:32 AM

On Tuesday, the Gaming Control Board will hold a special hearing to consider a finding of suitability for Pansy Ho, who is partnering with MGM Mirage on two casino projects in Macau.

Through a joint venture company, MGM Grand Paradise Limited, Ho and MGM Mirage are building the $1.1 billion MGM Grand Macau, which is scheduled to open by the end of 2007, and planning to build another resort casino on the Cotai Strip, a 15-minute drive from downtown Macau.

Pansy Ho is the daughter of Stanley Ho, who until a few years ago had a monopoly on the Macau casino market. His critics have said he has had ties to organized crime in the region and undoubtedly Nevada regulators will want to know whether he’s had any control or influence over his daughter’s business dealings.

MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni has stated publicly that he is confident Pansy Ho will be found suitable as a gaming partner in Nevada, as well as New Jersey, where she has also been called to appear.

Moreover, MGM Mirage last month brought before Nevada regulators members of an independently formed "compliance committee," which was responsible for examining and certifying the company’s business partnerships, before they’re actually reviewed by regulators.

While MGM Mirage officials appear assured that Pansy Ho will pass muster with regulators, some critics are not so certain.

An executive with Las Vegas Sands, which operates the Sands Macau and is building the Venetian Macau, said in 2005 that his firm wouldn’t joint-venture with Stanley or Pansy Ho, and that he thinks the elder Ho runs his daughter’s businesses.

Leading up to Tuesday’s meeting, the Control Board hasn’t revealed any details of its background check on Pansy Ho.

In addition to the Board’s questioning of Ho and possibly MGM officials, the hearing will feature a public comment session.