There are several ways to look at the decision by MGM Resorts International to pursue a New Jersey gambling license and retain its 50 percent stake in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
In 2010, MGM decided to sell its share of the Borgata after the state Division of Gaming Enforcement objected to the company's partner in its Macau casino hotel - Hong Kong businesswoman Pansy Ho. U.S. authorities have long suspected Ho's father, Stanley Ho, of being tied to Chinese organized crime.
MGM is facing a March 24 deadline to sell its share of the Borgata, after which it will be up to a trustee to find a buyer. On Wednesday, the Casino Control Commission agreed to amend the agreement that set the March deadline and begin the process that could lead to MGM being granted a New Jersey license.
So, there's the (perhaps) naive view: It's great news that an industry giant like MGM wants to keep its lucrative investment in the successful Borgata and is willing to fight for a New Jersey license.
There's the slightly more jaded view: Maybe MGM couldn't find an appropriate buyer at the right price for its stake in the Borgata.
And there's the downright cynical view: The New Jersey DGE report objecting to MGM's ties to Pansy Ho is causing the company problems in other jurisdictions where it is seeking gambling licenses.
But we're going with interpretation No. 1. Why not look on the bright side? This is good news for Atlantic City that could someday possibly lead to further investment in the resort by MGM.
The company is citing several factors that should mitigate the DGE's concerns about Pansy Ho. MGM has restructured its Macau deal, and she is now a minority partner, owning just 27 percent of the casino. She was initially a 50 percent partner.
Her father is now 91, in poor health and has divested many of his business interests. Furthermore, father and daughter don't appear particularly close. MGM noted that Stanley Ho has sued Pansy Ho and other family members over various business disputes.
Finally, it is worth noting that MGM has been licensed all over the world. Certainly, when the time comes, the DGE must do a diligent re-investigation. But all signs indicate that the company can be safely permitted to operate in New Jersey.
And whatever the reason for this decision by MGM, we're going to take it as a good sign for Atlantic City.