New Jersey cuts Boyd out of license review

Sep 29, 2009 5:09 PM
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier |

While analysts squabble over the value of MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGM) shares, New Jersey gaming officials are putting together information relative to the continuation of the company’s license to operate in that state.

At issue is MGM’s partnership in Macau casino with Pansy Ho, daughter of casino mogul Stanley Ho, whose reputation over the years has been tarnished by allegations of relationships with Asian gangsters.

Last week, Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD) was notified that it would not be included in the examination the New Jersey Gaming Control Board is making of the MGM license. Boyd and MGM MIRAGE are partners in the Borgata complex, the most successful gaming operation in Atlantic City.

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When the Macau issue first arose in New Jersey, officials of MGM said they would vigorously defend the Pansy Ho relationship since Macau casino activities had no involvement with her father. Also, it was noted, she had been approved in Nevada and several other gaming jurisdictions.

Surprisingly, another factor is believed to have entered the New Jersey license evaluation with the comments from a federal judge in California who is hearing a case that grew out of an illegal wiretapping probe.

It involves the ex-wife of Kirk Kerkorian, the largest single stockholder in MGM MIRAGE Inc.

During a dispute over the amount of child support Kerkorian was to pay his ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, allegedly a private investigator, Anthony Pellicano, was paid by Kerkorian’s attorney, Terry Christiansen, to tap the woman’s telephone.

In a sealed 2008 opinion, made public last week, Judge Dale Fischer wrote that there "was reasonable cause to believe that (Kerkorian) was" complicit in the illegal activity performed by Christensen and Pellicano.

Pellicano is now serving a 15-year prison term for illegal wiretappings in a number of different cases while Christensen, a former member of the board of directors of MGM MIRAGE Inc., also received a prison sentence.

Lisa Bonder Kerkorian has filed a civil lawsuit against Kirk Kerkorian, Pacific Bell Telephone Co. and Christensen.

Kirk Kerkorian’s lawyer emphasized that in the sealed opinion the judge "said only that there was reasonable cause to believe Kerkorian knew about the wiretaps and that the judge left the matter as an undecided issue."

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Ray Poirier