A proposed Las Vegas-style casino at National Harbor in Prince George's County could face new scrutiny in the coming weeks over alleged ties to organized crime in China.
The $800 million casino would be run by MGM Resorts, which was forced to sell its interest in the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City rather than cut ties with Pansy Ho, who co-owns the MGM Grand Macau.
According to The Washington Post, a report released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in 2010 alleged that Chinese crime groups used VIP rooms in casinos owned by Pansy Ho's father, Stanley, to engage in debt collection, drug use, and prostitution, among other activities. Because of this, the New Jersey report deemed Pansy Ho to be "unsuitable" as a business partner for MGM.
According to the Post, Stanley Ho is not listed as an owner of the MGM Grand Macau. However, the New Jersey report says that 90 percent of the funds Pansy Ho contributed to the casino were provided by her father.
MGM claims that Pansy Ho holds less of a stake in the Macau casino than she did when the report was issued, which they say minimizes the risk of "improper influence." They also point out that New Jersey is the only state to take action against an MGM casino operating in the state, as opposed to Nevada, Mississippi, and Illinois, who to this date have not.
Milton Peterson, chairman of the Peterson Companies, the developer of the National Harbor site, told the Post that he was "confident that MGM will not have any difficulty in obtaining a gaming license from the state of Maryland."