Casino operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) is poised to become the first tribal gaming operator to manage casino operations on the Las Vegas Strip.
On Tuesday, MGE announced that it had entered into a venture with JC Hospitality LLC, owner of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The property changed hands last year through an investment group that included Richard Branson’s Virgin empire and will be rebranded as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas when it re-opens toward the end of 2020.
MGE’s deal, which will see it manage gaming operations at the Virgin property’s 60k-square-foot casino, is subject to completion of the property’s planned reconstruction, an eight-month process that will get underway next February, as well as MGE’s ability to secure the necessary gaming license from Nevada officials.
JC Hospitality CEO Richard Bosworth said his group had chosen MGE because they “pride themselves on traditional principles, in sync with modern values.” Bosworth celebrated his group’s role in helping MGE put down roots in Nevada, a first for a US tribal gaming operator.
As if on cue, MGE CEO Mario Kontomerkos hailed the deal as an extension of his company’s “growing reach into yet another legendary global entertainment capital.” MGE currently operates its flagship Mohegan Sun casino in its home base of Connecticut as well as managing gaming operations at venues across multiple US states.
MGE has also expanded internationally, starting with the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and more recently to Incheon, South Korea. The company is also on the shortlist to secure the lone casino license at the €8b integrated resort project at the site of Athens’ former Hellinikon airport. MGE plans to utilize its Momentum customer reward program to help drive visitation to the new Vegas venue.
MGE’s Mohegan Sun venue features a 12k-seat arena, but management, operations and booking for the Virgin property’s music venue The Joint will be run by AEG Presents through a deal that was signed this July.