Shares of MGM Resorts rise on casino plan

NEW YORK -- Shares of MGM Resorts International climbed Thursday after the company said its Chinese arm signed a deal for land to build a massive new casino in the world's biggest gambling market.

That's not Las Vegas _ it's the Asian gambling mecca of Macau, which has driven growth in recent years for U.S. casino and resort operators. It's the only place in China where gambling is legal.

MGM is hoping to catch up with the rapid expansion of its rivals as it builds the $2.5 billion casino and resort.

The new structure will include a 1,600-room hotel, 500 gambling tables and 2,500 slot machines. MGM China, which signed the deal, is a joint venture between Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International and Pansy Ho, daughter of Macau casino kingpin Stanley Ho.

Macau's casino revenues have rocketed since its government opened gambling to foreign operators about a decade ago. The former Portuguese colony raked in $33.5 billion in gambling revenue last year, more than five times the amount earned on the Las Vegas Strip.

MGM Resorts shares rose 2.3 percent, or 25 cents, to $11.17 in afternoon trading. It's traded between $8.83 and $14.94 in the past year.