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Mohegan Tribe to end management of Las Vegas casino

Updated May 8, 2024 - 12:52 pm

The Mohegan Tribe will end its casino management role at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas by the end of the year.

The tribe and Virgin Hotels on Tuesday jointly announced the transition to Virgin, subject to regulatory approvals.

The 1,504-room, off-Strip property with a 60,000-square-foot casino opened in March 2021 and was the first commercial casino in Las Vegas to be managed by an Indian tribe. Since then, management of the Palms casino was taken over by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians of California, and The Mirage has been acquired by Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole tribe of Florida.

Executives for Mohegan and Virgin did not explain why the tribe is relinquishing control of the casino.

In a release issued late Tuesday, it was announced that Cliff Atkinson, who was named president of the property last year, would oversee gaming and that, following a transition period, Mohegan would cease to manage or lease the casino.

Before joining Virgin, Atkinson was president of Fontainebleau Las Vegas for about a year before departing in January 2023. He also has formerly served as a high-ranking exec at Mandarin Oriental (now Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas) and Luxor.

“We are grateful for the collaboration with Mohegan, and we will continue to work together to ensure a well-ordered transition of casino operations,” Atkinson said in a statement. “This transition is a natural progression in our journey to provide guests of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas with a seamless resort experience.”

In December, Mohegan reported cash flow — the money going in and out of the casino — at its Las Vegas operation of $3.1 million, down dramatically from the previous year. The tribe attributed the decline at the Las Vegas casino to decreased gaming revenue, because table-game hold — the amount won by the casino — was less than the average normally won.

Former Hard Rock Hotel

The property — which was remodeled and rebranded from Hard Rock Hotel — transitioned to Virgin three years ago.

“Mohegan’s partnership with Virgin Hotels Las Vegas was, upon inception, and is today in the very best interest of the guests and hardworking team members whose patronage and contributions to the business are deeply appreciated,” said Ray Pineault, president and CEO of Mohegan. “While Mohegan’s role will come to an end, we are confident that the resort’s unwavering focus on guest and team member satisfaction will continue.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission must weigh in on new operators of the casino.

Other Mohegan ownership

Mohegan operates eight casino properties worldwide, including its flagship Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

It also has casino operations in Atlantic City; Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; and Ridgefield, Washington. Its international holdings include two resorts in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Mohegan Inspire in Incheon, South Korea.

The company’s iGaming division, Mohegan Digital, has a growing customer base, and the tribe also owns a WNBA basketball team, the Connecticut Sun, which plays its home games in an arena built into the flagship casino at Uncasville.

The operation of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas has been overseen by three partners – the tribe, Virgin Hotels — a part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group with hotels in Chicago, Dallas, Nashville, New Orleans and Old Town Edinburgh in Scotland — and Hilton’s Curio Collection portfolio.

In addition to the hotel and casino, the property has a five-acre pool complex with a multifunctional lawn, a live music and entertainment theater, 12 food-and-beverage outlets including Nobu, the Kassi Beach House and Beach Club experience.

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

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