A probe into financial irregularities at the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority’s Pennsylvania casino may have contributed to this week’s surprise resignation of the group’s CEO Bobby Soper.
On Tuesday, Soper abruptly announced that he was leaving the MTGA to “take on a new challenge.” Soper, who’d been CEO since 2015, declined to specify the nature of his new challenge, nor why he was leaving more than a year before his current MTGA contract expired.
On Wednesday, the MTGA filed papers with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that referenced a review of “possible operational control deficiencies” at the group’s Mohegan Sun Pocono casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The filing notes that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s Office of Enforcement Control (OEC) had flagged the casino’s “system of tracking and reporting the issuance of certain customer incentives such as free slot play.”
Last year, the Mohegan Sun Pocono uncovered an internal theft scam in which several staffers – including VP of player development Robert Pellegrini – collected player reward program data that was used to gamble with free slot play credits. Pellegrini eventually pled guilty to federal money laundering conspiracy charges.
Soper, who headed up the Mohegan Sun Pocono before becoming MTGA CEO, told The Day that the internal theft antics did not occur on his watch. Mike Bean, Soper’s replacement at the Mohegan Sun Pocono, resigned in May 2016 after news of the scandal broke.
SOPER’S UNDISCLOSED STAKE IN MARKETING AFFILIATE
The MTGA filing also reported that it recently terminated the Pocono casino’s contract with ReferLocal, a marketing and advertising firm that had been doing business with the casino since 2011. The MTGA noted that ReferLocal was not registered with the state regulator as a gaming service provider.
As a result, the MTGA “cannot predict” whether the OEC will conclude that the relationship “was not in compliance with applicable gaming law.” But the MTGA believes that preliminary findings indicate that the MTGA will be subject to disciplinary action, including a fine and other steps required to “remediate the issues identified by the OEC.”
The MTGA further stated that Soper had a 5% stake in ReferLocal, which the filing claims Soper failed to disclose to the MTGA. Soper told The Day that he didn’t consider his stake in ReferLocal to be a “material issue” but it became a “collateral issue.”
The MTGA filing indicates that ReferLocal sued the MTGA on February 3, based on the firm’s claim that it had “suffered damages in connection with the termination of our business relationship and may seek recovery of such damages from [the MTGA] and our former president and chief executive officer.”