High stakes in bid for Aqueduct casino

Here’s a screaming headline from Sunday’s New York Daily News: Chinese crime connection found for Aqueduct casino bidder.

MGM Mirage is one of several gaming companies pitching to operate a 4,500 video lottery machine casino at the Aqueduct Raceway in Queens. Gaming experts expect Aqueduct to be a lucrative business opportunity, located just minutes from the heart of New York City.

In addition to MGM Mirage, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas gaming figure Larry Woolf, Hard Rock Entertainment and Penn National Gaming are among the companies that have pitched proposals.

Now, the Daily News “has learned” (the newspaper’s word, not mine) that MGM Mirage is connected with Hong Kong gaming magnet Stanley Ho, whose Macau casinos have been alleged by international law enforcement to be controlled by Chinese organized crime triads.

MGM Mirage is a 50-50 joint venture partner in the MGM Grand Macau with Hong Kong businesswoman Pansy Ho, one of the 87-year-old Stanley Ho’s 17 children.

Nevada gaming regulators approved the relationship in 2007 but New Jersey gaming authorities, where MGM Mirage owns 50 percent of the Borgata with Boyd Gaming Corp, isn’t so sure.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission is reopening a licensing hearing for the Borgata because of MGM Mirage’s Pansy Ho partnership.

So, this isn’t much of a scoop.

"We’ve made very clear that our partner is Pansy Ho, not her father," MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman told the newspaper. "Pansy has a long-established, hard-earned reputation of being a very responsible, very successful businessperson of very high integrity."

Feldman also gave the Daily News a pitch for his company.

"Our record is crystal clear and wide open as to how we operate and why we would be incredibly successful (if we are) given the opportunity in New York," Feldman said.

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