March 31, 2010 / 8:55 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 3-Illinois launches investigation of MGM Mirage

* Illinois cites New Jersey findings on Macau venture

* Michigan reviewing MGM Mirage license

* Mississippi reviewing New Jersey report

* Nevada has no plans to reopen review of MGM Mirage (Adds Nevada comments, MGM Mirage comment)

By Deena Beasley

LOS ANGELES, March 31 (Reuters) - MGM Mirage (MGM.N) will be investigated by the Illinois Gaming Board, after the state of New Jersey found that the casino company’s Macau partner has links to Chinese organized crime.

General counsel Michael Fries said on Wednesday the casino operator had been told about the upcoming probe on Tuesday at a meeting of the Illinois regulatory board.

“We’re ready to provide whatever additional information they may request,” MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said.

MGM owns a 50 percent stake in the Grand Victoria Casino, a riverboat casino about 40 miles from Chicago in Elgin, Illinois.

The Michigan Gaming Control Board said it was reviewing MGM, which owns half of the MGM Grand Detroit casino, after the New Jersey findings.

And the Mississippi Gaming Commission said it was reviewing the New Jersey report on MGM Mirage, according to the commission’s deputy director, Allen Godfrey.

CHINESE CONNECTION

MGM said earlier in March that it would sell its 50 percent stake in the Borgata casino-hotel in Atlantic City after New Jersey gambling regulators said the company’s Macau partner, Pansy Ho, had links to Chinese organized crime.

Pansy Ho is the daughter of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, who has been accused of having ties to Chinese triads.

Since reverting to China in 1999, Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has surpassed Las Vegas to become the world’s largest gambling center. It is the only place in China where gambling is legal.

Regulators in Nevada, where MGM operates 14 casinos, said they have no plans to reopen their inquiry into the MGM Grand Macau joint venture, which was formed in 2004.

“Nevada’s position has not changed, and there are no plans to reassess the joint venture relationship between MGM Mirage and Ms. Ho,” Randall Sayre, a member of Nevada’s Gaming Control Board, said in an e-mailed statement.

Sayre said the Nevada board would analyze the status of VIP room operations in Macau casinos after a Reuters report on Monday detailing possible links to Chinese criminals at Las Vegas Sands Corp’s (LVS.N) Macau operations.

“At the conclusion of our analysis of the situation in its entirety, this agency will move appropriately as governed by Nevada law and standards required of our Nevada licenses,” he said in the email.

Sands operates three casinos in Macau as well as the Palazzo and Venetian resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.

MGM said in a statement earlier this month that all of the jurisdictions in which it operates were well aware of the Macau joint venture, “had access to the same information as the New Jersey gaming regulators, and have all either determined that the company’s relationship with Pansy Ho is appropriate or that further action was not necessary.” (Reporting by Deena Beasley; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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