Connecticut’s Mohegan Indian Tribe has become the first tribal operator to enter into Las Vegas and lease a 60,000-sq-ft gaming floor at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Mohegan Gets Final Go-Ahead to Enter Las Vegas Casino Market
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) is tipped to become the first tribal casino operator to arrive close to the Las Vegas Strip following approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) earlier this month and confirmation by the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) during the most recent committee hearing this week.
On Thursday, the NGC voted unanimously to allow the Mohegan Sun at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas to open officially on January 15, 2021. The property, which was previously known as Hard Rock Las Vegas, shut down in February and began remodeling which is now expected to finish early in January.
MGE executives had flown in specifically for the hearing, welcoming the news that MGE will be allowed to open an official property in one of America’s iconic gambling hubs.
Mohegan Gaming CEO Mario Kontomerkos welcomed the development and said that the company would use this strategic opportunity to work towards reaching its goals, which includes employing as many as 22,000 people by 2025.
Gaming Commission Representative Deborah J. Fuetsch argued that granting approval to MGE is the surest way to bring new and versatile investors to the Las Vegas Strip and the city, and it constituted a win-win for both the city and company.
Mohegan Gaming’s footprint features properties in Atlantic City as well as Indian casino properties in Washington and Louisiana. They operate both their own brands and also act as stewards for other tribes, helping to manage properties.
Mohegan’s to Operate Through a Licensing Agreement
Mohegan’s flagship properties include the Mohegan Sun Resort in Uncasville, Connecticut as well as the Mohegan Sun Poconos property in Pennsylvania. As to the off-Strip property, Mohegan Gaming will be in control of the 60,000 square foot casino space whereas Virgin Hotels will run the 1,110 hotel rooms with each company operating in their area of expertise exclusively.
The casino floor won’t feature a poker room, however, and while a sportsbook agreement has been struck with Betfred USA Sports, that is still pending regulatory approval and may not be available for the January 15 opening.
Mohegan has also preferred to stay a little more flexible in the case of Nevada, just leasing the property instead of seeking to negotiate a tribal gaming compact, which is usually the more fiddly procedure.
Once the property restarts, it will adhere to safety guidelines issued by the State of Nevada. Elsewhere, Mohegan is yet to reopen its two casino properties in Canada following a recent decision by the Ontario Lottery Corp. to keep gaming venues closed.
The company won a bid to redevelop the former Hellenikon International Airport outside of Athens, Greece, and is developing another $5 billion resort at Incheon International Airport in South Korea.