- The Nevada Gaming Commission has approved the licensing of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment to operate the casino at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
- The new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas location is on the site of the former Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Property.
- The Virgin Hotels Las Vegas casino will be run by Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment with Betfred USA operating the sportsbook.
In a Thursday meeting the Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously to approve Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment’s licensing to operating the casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. It wasn’t much of a surprise–in fact, it looked all but certain following the recommendation of the Nevada Gaming Control Board to award licensing to the management arm of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.
The approval of the Connecticut based Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority is very significant on a symbolic level–they’re the first tribal casino presence in the Las Vegas gaming market. On a practical level, they’re a well established and highly regarded gaming management company which owns and operates not only their flagship property–the Mohegan Sun–but a number of other gaming businesses throughout the US and internationally.
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment will operate the casino at the forthcoming Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The gaming floor will be branded under the ‘Mohegan Sun’ name with the US subsidiary of UK sports betting powerhouse Betfred Sports operating the sportsbook. Although this will be Betfred’s first presence in Nevada they’ve made significant enroads into the US sports betting market. On June 17, they became the first operational retail sportsbook in Colorado market. The Betfred Sportsbook at the Saratoga Casino Black Hawk has the distinction of taking the state’s first non-mobile sports wager. They’ve recently released a mobile app in Colorado as well.
Although the NGC spent more than two hours vetting and questioning Mohegan representatives they had nothing but good things to say about the company prior to the unanimous licensing vote. Commissioner Deborah Fuetsch of Northern Nevada spoke effusively of the opportunity to bring some new players into the stagnant Silver State gaming industry:
“This is a very exciting opportunity to bring in new investors and operators to Las Vegas. I anticipate this will be a win-win for Las Vegas and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.”
Commissioner Fuetsch was particularly impressed with the high quality of Mohegan Gaming’s individual applicants:
“I will say that this is a very impressive group of individual applicants — very clean backgrounds with not a single hiccup. 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 Oggana Brown is hoping to see some of the tribal cultural influence take hold in Nevada:
“I am very excited about the additional concepts, ideas, philosophies and traditions coming to Las Vegas. 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.”
Commissioner Rosa Solis-Rainey echoed the ‘win win’ narrative of Commissioner Fuetsch:
“I think this is an exciting time for your nation and I look forward to having you. 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.”
January 15, 2021 was announced as the opening date of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas at a media event in late September. The property originally gave a reopening timeframe of Fall 2020 but that was before the COVID-19 pandemic left the US gaming industry in a state of disarray.