Mohegan Gaming bets major on foreign casinos

To hear CEO Mario Kontomerkos tell it, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment’s solution weapon in its recent operate of winning international contracts is its feeling of time.

Mario Kontomerkos, CEO, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment

Foreign regulators also often see U.S.-dependent bidders for vacation resort licenses as targeted on a transactional, time-is-dollars technique. Which is a feeling of time that grates on Outdated Environment sensitivities in cultures that check out time in generations instead than in quarterly earnings reviews.

It also operates opposite to the principles of the Mohegan Tribal Council, the guiding pressure at the rear of the privately-held MGE.

Montville-dependent Mohegan Gaming seeks to establish a extensive-term marriage with its communities, Kontomerkos points out, and is inclined to devote in infrastructure and providers that give positive aspects outside of the resort’s footprint.

He points to the effect Mohegan Solar has experienced on the state of Connecticut, beyond the borders of the Uncasville resort house. There’s the $35-million expense in freeway infrastructure, the $13-million expenditure in upgrading the regional water technique and the fireplace/unexpected emergency medical response system that serves the more substantial Montville community effectively past the tribal boundaries.

And MGE’s presentations — and background — recommend it will just take considerably the identical solution in other jurisdictions.

Kontomerkos credits this very long-look at with swaying federal government regulators in Greece and South Korea to favor MGE. The final result is specials to establish and control resort complexes that could run to additional than $10 billion.

That’s not to diminish Mohegan Gaming’s report establishing one particular of the world’s busiest and most successful built-in resorts in the Mohegan Sun.

The Mohegan Sunlight Arena — dwelling to a women’s expert basketball team, men’s lacrosse crew and a non-halt calendar of significant-profile concerts — has develop into an industry model. So has its profitable integration of dining places, retail and relatives-pleasant leisure. And then there’s its prolonged record of success managing one particular of the nation’s biggest casinos, a report about to be burnished as MGE results in being the to start with tribal operator of a Las Vegas gaming venue.

Also, MGE has motivated resort-style tendencies with its emphasis on a “barbell” tactic with casinos at both finishes of the footprint and a lodge-foyer independent from the gaming areas.

Indeed, even though MGE is primarily based in Connecticut, it’s now a effectively-acknowledged national and global player.

Here’s a search at Mohegan Gaming’s new successes around the earth.

Greece — A lengthy and disputed process came to an stop very last month when MGE edged out Really hard Rock Intercontinental and the Seminole Tribe of Florida for the legal rights to acquire a huge resort on a decommissioned airport web-site in the vicinity of Athens.

Rendering | Contributed

Mohegan Gaming’s planned casino vacation resort in Athens, Greece.

In generally contentious Greek type, it has taken 19 decades to concur on a approach for redeveloping Hellenikon Worldwide Airport. And it may possibly get an additional yr or more in advance of MGE’s design lover — GEK TERNA — has the permits essential to get started operate on what would be a wide advanced of 1,250 lodge rooms, 40 places to eat, retail buying, a 15,000-seat arena, golfing training course, amusement complex and, of system, casino place for 1,500 slot machines and 250 table games.

Full expenses could tactic $9 billion, while MGE’s share is closer to $1 billion. MGE is contacting the project “Inspire Athens.”

A marina, office complicated and luxury houses are also prepared for the expansive residence, which had been Athens’ global airport right up until it was changed in 2001.

South Korea — MGE’s initially global win was the 2016 deal to develop an integrated vacation resort at the Inchon International Airport, one particular of the busiest in the environment.

It took a guarantee of a bare minimum $5 billion financial investment to land the bid, though ideas simply call for advancement in phases as a result of 2031. Recognized as “Inspire,” the undertaking will involve a few resort towers and twin casinos. Ground was damaged in 2019 but work has slowed together with air website traffic amid the pandemic.

MGE officials set a content confront on the delays, telling an Asian gaming convention it was undertaking some redesign function to strengthen guest safety.

South Korean media, nevertheless, are reporting both of those MGE and a close by rival undertaking licensed to Caesars Entertainment are possessing problems raising funds to assemble resorts in this mid-pandemic enterprise local weather.

MGE has reported its casino is on keep track of to open in the second 50 % of 2022.

Las Vegas — Arrive Jan. 15, Virgin Inns will open the doors on its 1st resort in Sin Town, with a 60,000-square-foot on line casino procedure managed by MGE.

Rendering | Contributed

The Mohegan Sunlight Casino at Virgin Lodges Las Vegas will debut in January.

It is a historic initial in Las Vegas for an operator with its roots firmly in Indian Country. It is also a tribute to the esteem in which MGE is held by its peers in business gaming.

The lodge is a practically yr-extended renovation of the former Hard Rock Hotel to replicate the tastes of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Lodge manufacturer. The style stays largely less than wraps, with tantalizing glimpses staying unveiled just about every few months this tumble.

Kontomerkos would not even confirm regardless of whether the site will have MGE’s signature waterfall characteristic and separation among the lodge foyer and casino ground.

Washington Point out — In mid-Oct, MGE and the Cowlitz Indian Tribe announced a big growth of its 16-calendar year-previous enhancement arrangement.

Ground has been broken on a 300-place lodge to enhance the flagship Ilani on line casino opened in 2017 in Ridgefield, Wash. Completion of the 14-tale tower is expected in 2021.

The casino is also undergoing a facelift and incorporating two places to eat. MGE will be a lover in acquiring a grasp prepare for the whole reservation with an eye toward expanding small business prospects for the web-site, 30 miles north of Portland, Ore.

Ontario, Canada — In the summer time of 2019, MGE took about administration of what the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. phone calls its “Niagara Gaming Bundle.”

The centerpiece is Fallsview Casino Resort overlooking the Canadian facet of the famed Niagara Falls. Adjacent is the brand name new 5,000-seat Niagara Falls Entertainment Centre. The web-site is in minutes of a potentially beneficial American audience in metropolitan Buffalo.

But that international border has become an critical situation in the time of COVID. The Ontario govt carries on to block the reopening of the on line casino, and the border stays shut to vacation in possibly route.

Curiously, MGE is competing with a casino not far absent on the U.S. aspect, operate by the Seneca Indian Tribe. MGE’s management contract operates to 2040.

Difficulties ahead

In addition to the flagship Mohegan Sun, MGE also operates Mohegan Sunshine-Pocono in Pennsylvania Paragon On line casino Vacation resort in Louisiana and Resorts On line casino Lodge in Atlantic Town, New Jersey.

That is remarkable development in the 24 yrs since Mohegan Sunlight opened its doors.

Still, there are some dim clouds on the horizon. Irrespective of the evident expansion, MGE’s balance sheet has demonstrated stagnant revenues throughout the past couple a long time as levels of competition intensifies.

In April, Moody’s Investors Services downgraded MGE debt to a highly speculative “Caa2” — just three measures from rock base — following it skipped a $19.7-million debt payment. A default was averted but problems continue being more than the large credit card debt load.

By getting the prolonged view, Kontomerkos and MGE are equipped to glance beyond those people considerations and over and above the pandemic’s withering consequences on tourism and entertainment. When other individuals are retrenching, Mohegan Gaming is pushing forward.

At the conclusion of 2019, Native Business enterprise magazine named Kontomerkos just one of its “top 30 CEOs.” The headline on its interview examine: “Mohegan Gaming CEO Mario Kontomerkos: Planning Earth Domination (No, Actually, He Is).”

Questioned about the accuracy of that headline, Kontomerkos demurred. He then went on to outline a technique that will have MGE going everywhere in the environment for the proper lengthy-phrase chance and a relationship with “long roots.”

It is really hard not to watch his non-denial as an affirmation of the perception by Indigenous Business enterprise editors.