Friday, February 08, 2013 • 9:17 AM Post a Comment

Council Committee Weighs in on Casino Agreement

posted by Maureen Turner

With a few days to go until Mayor Domenic Sarno announces whether he’ll negotiate with one or both of the city’s prospective casino developers, the City Council’s casino site committee is urging the administration to draft host-community agreements with both.

As Pete Goonan reports here in the Republican, the committee voted this week on a resolution asking the mayor to hash out the details of potential deals with both MGM and Penn National. While Sarno doesn’t have to listen to the committee, the City Council will have a chance to vote on any agreement, or agreements, the mayor does reach. The plan or plans will then go before city voters. Ultimately, the state’s Gaming Commission makes the final decision on where the one western Mass. casino will be sited.

The City Council committee’s recommendation is a good one; unless the mayor’s review of the plans submitted by casino developers has uncovered some damning evidence about one of the companies—or found that one of the plans is just a dog—why not let city residents choose between competing projects?

Goonan also reports on questions raised about MGM’s connection with the daughter of Stanley Ho, a Hong Kong businessman known—according to Wikipedia, at least—as “the King of Gambling.” (Wikipedia also includes all sorts of colorful personal information that suggests Ho would be great fodder for an HBO drama.)

“The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement had listed Pansy Ho as ‘an unsuitable partner’ for MGM in 2010 after federal agencies had alleged Stanley Ho had ties to criminals, according to published reports. At the time, MGM reached a settlement to sell its half-interest in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, and leave New Jersey.” Goonan reports. “However, New Jersey regulators are slated to reconsider their decision that led to the MGM settlement, according to online reports in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News on Thursday.”

City Council President Jimmy Ferrera told the Republican the casino committee plans to meet with MGM officials to discuss Pansy Ho, as well as with Penn National to discuss the treatment of horses at that company’s race tracks.

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