Mohegan Sun chases new markets as Connecticut casino sales slide

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, owner of Connecticut’s top-grossing casino, is accelerating its push outside the state as competition threatens to lure more players from its home turf. More

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ENTERTAINMENT

Mohegan Sun chases new markets as Connecticut casino sales slide

Posted 7/10/14

LOS ANGELES – The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, owner of Connecticut’s top-grossing casino, is accelerating its push outside the state as competition threatens to lure more players from its home turf.

The authority, owned by the state’s 2,000-member Mohegan tribe, delivered a 10,000-page bid last week to New York regulators for a $550 million casino in Thompson, on the site of the former Concord Resort in the Catskills. It’s also proposing to build casinos in Philadelphia and Boston.

“There’s going to be casinos in these places,” said Mitchell Etess, a former Trump executive who has been with the authority for 18 years and became CEO in 2006. “The key for us is to grow in a way we can manage successfully.”

Doing nothing is a bigger gamble. New venues in nearby states mark a fresh competitive threat to Connecticut’s two casinos, where slot-machine revenue has shrunk by a third since 2006. Business in the state has already been hurt by the addition of slots at horse tracks in New York, casinos in Pennsylvania and, most recently, table games in Rhode Island.

Mohegan owns one of the largest casino resorts in the U.S., the 4.5 million-square-foot Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., 125 miles north of New York City. Connecticut’s slot revenue, from Mohegan and Foxwoods Resort Casino, fell 8 percent to $441 million in the first five months of this year, extending a seven-year slide.

The authority’s expansion began with the 2006 opening of the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township, Pa. It also manages the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. Still, Connecticut accounted for 78 percent of the authority’s $1.3 billion in revenue last year.

‘Capital light’

“Keeping focused on the Northeast makes the most sense for us,” Etess said in a telephone interview. “It’s where our brand is most known.”

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