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Mohegan CEO recommended for licensing despite disciplinary action

Updated June 9, 2021 - 7:11 pm

Despite looming disciplinary action for his company, the CEO of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment on Wednesday was recommended for licensing by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

During his licensing testimony, Raymond Pineault, who was appointed president and CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority on May 27, apologized to Control Board members for the company violating government health and safety regulations at the opening of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on March 25.

Board members voted unanimously to recommend Pineault’s suitability application to the Nevada Gaming Commission, which is expected to consider final approval on June 24.

Regulation 5 complaint

The Control Board issued a 17-page complaint against MGNV, LLC, doing business as Mohegan Sun Casino Las Vegas. The Mohegan Tribe is one of three partners operating Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

In the five-count complaint, Deputy Attorney General John Michela said the company was in violation of Regulation 5 for its “failure to exercise discretion and sound judgment to prevent incidents which might reflect on the repute of the state of Nevada and act as a detriment to the development of the industry” for the operation of its casino.

The complaint cited patrons not wearing face coverings and not engaging in proper social distancing during the party for the opening of the hotel-casino.

On three of the five violations, the Control Board cited photographs posted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as evidence, and on the other two, it noted social media postings on Virgin Hotels Las Vegas’ official Twitter account with photos showing people without facial coverings or not observing social distancing. The Virgin Hotels posts have been taken down.

In one of the Virgin Hotels postings, patrons were identified, including photos of actor, television and radio host Mario Lopez. The complaint noted that Lopez was not eating, drinking or smoking in the photos, which were allowed by emergency directives ordered by Gov. Steve Sisolak.

A settlement and stipulation have been drafted for the Nevada Gaming Commission’s consideration that recommend a $600,000 fine for Mohegan Sun.

It’s unclear when the Gaming Commission will consider the Control Board complaint and the stipulation for settlement.

Taking incidents ‘very seriously’

Pineault, who was the first licensing applicant to appear in person before the Control Board since March 2020, took a proactive approach with board members when discussing the disciplinary action.

“We’ve agreed to settle involving our Nevada property and stemming from incidents that occurred on the night of our opening,” Pineault told board members.

“As leader of the organization, I take full responsibility for the lapse of judgment and failure on the part of our team to uphold the standards of the Gaming Control Board and the state on the date in question. There’s nothing more important to me and our organization than the safety and security of our team, guests and the community and I recognize there’s no excuse for this behavior,” he said.

“However, I want to assure the board that this is not who I am as an individual and not who we are as an organization,” he said. “We take the concerns and violations that were raised very seriously and after becoming aware of the incident, took immediate remedial action.”

Pineault originally applied for licensing as the company’s chief operating officer and interim CEO, but on May 27, he was designated the full-time CEO by the company, replacing Mario Kontomerkos.

Pineault is based in Uncasville, Connecticut, home of the company’s flagship Mohegan Sun resort. He has no plans to move to Nevada.

The company, after opening Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, is continuing growth plans with the development of a resort in Seoul, South Korea, that will be attached to Incheon International Airport and open in 2023. Pineault said the casino there would be exclusively for tourists and not open to South Koreans.

Another Mohegan property remains closed by the coronavirus pandemic at Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Pineault has held several roles with the company since 2005, including its in-house legal counsel. He was credited with relocating a WNBA team from Orlando, Florida, to Connecticut. The Connecticut Sun play in an arena at the Mohegan Sun resort.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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