Updated October 23, 2020 - 9:02 am
Nevada regulators approved the licensing of the first tribal gaming enterprise to operate a casino in the Las Vegas resort corridor.
The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday spent more than two hours vetting the licensing of Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment before unanimously voting to enable it to operate the casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, located at the former site of the Hard Rock Hotel at Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue, plans a Jan. 15 opening after a $200 million makeover.
Mohegan, developer of the Mohegan Sun hotel-casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, will operate the 60,000-square-foot casino under an agreement with JC Hospitality LLC.
The casino will have 650 slot machines and 50 table games with the flexibility to change as demand requires.
Mohegan board members answered questions from their tribal headquarters in Uncasville in an online meeting with regulators in Nevada.
Commissioners were impressed with the applicants questioned in the hearing.
“This is a very exciting opportunity to bring in new investors and operators to Las Vegas,” said Commissioner Deborah Fuetsch of Northern Nevada. “I anticipate this will be a win-win for Las Vegas and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.”
Fuetsch said the applicants were atypical of a usual group of about 15 up for licensing of an operator.
“I will say that this is a very impressive group of individual applicants — very clean backgrounds with not a single hiccup,” she said. “With that many, usually we have one or two that we might have a couple of questions about their background. But this group was very impressive and really there was nothing that jumped out on any of the applicants.”
Commissioner Ogonna Brown said the tribe’s cultural richness could add new experiences to Las Vegas.
“I am very excited about the additional concepts, ideas, philosophies and traditions coming to Las Vegas,” Brown said. “I think they will co-exist nicely and I am definitely in support and I really commend the presentation of the cadre of people that have come before us today.”
Brown noted that she is “very, very hopeful for the future and the symbiotic relationship we will have with the cross-marketing and very, very interested in the future and the company to see how much more you will grow.”
“I think this is an exciting time for your nation and I look forward to having you,” added Commissioner Rosa Solis-Rainey, who said she has family members who belong to a smaller tribe. “I think it’s going to be a win-win definitely for both your tribe and for the city of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada.”
Tribal leaders said in their testimony that 1,309 adult members of the tribe receive checks of less than $30,000 a year as a result of the tribe’s gaming relationships worldwide.
Mohegan’s global holdings
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment’s roster of nine properties worldwide has enthused the Nevada Gaming Commission with the prospect of cross-marketing customers to Southern Nevada when Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opens in January.
Mohegan controls nine properties in eight jurisdictions, with 25 million annual visitors, 4,600 hotel rooms by 2023, more than 110 restaurants, bars and nightclubs and more than 22,000 employees by 2025.
It has its flagship Mohegan Sun property, opened in 1996 in a beautifully forested area in Connecticut, a pipeline to bring in East Coast visitors.
The tribe operates the Ilani tribal casino in Ridgefield, Washington; the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana; Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey; Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; the Fallsview Resort Hotel and Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in Canada; and, within the next year, the Inspire Entertainment Resort near Incheon International Airport close to Seoul, South Korea. Tribal members have pointed out that there is nonstop service on Korean Air between Seoul and Las Vegas.
The tribe also was notified that it has been selected to develop Greece’s first integrated resort.