he Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the licensing of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment to operate the casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, becoming the first tribal gaming enterprise to operate a casino in the Las Vegas resort corridor.
The property is located at the former site of the Hard Rock Hotel, and it is expected to open on January 15 after a $200 million makeover. Mohegan, which owns and runs the Mohegan Sun hotel-casino in Connecticut, will operate the 60,000-square-foot casino under a partnership with JC Hospitality LLC. The casino will have 650 slot machines and 50 table games with the flexibility to change as demand requires.
Members of Mohegan's Board of Directors answered questions from their tribal headquarters in Uncasville in an online meeting with regulators in Nevada. Tribal leaders said 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.
“This is a very exciting opportunity to bring in new investors and operators to Las Vegas,” said Commissioner Deborah Fuetsch of Northern Nevada, as reported by Las Vegas Review-Journal. “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.”
“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.”