Foxwoods Owner Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to Operate Historic San Juan Casino

Posted on: January 26, 2021, 02:55h. 

Last updated on: January 26, 2021, 03:48h.

The owner of the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut will spend $12.5 million to renovate a famed gaming space in Puerto Rico.

Foxwoods El San Juan Casino Puerto Rico
The Fairmont El San Juan Hotel is teaming up with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to return gambling to the resort’s main lobby and bar (seen here). The tribe owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. (Image: Foxwoods El San Juan Casino)

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns Foxwoods, announced today that it’s investing $12.5 million to redevelop the historic casino located inside the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel. The investment is in partnership with LionGrove, a hospitality firm that provides services to hoteliers.

Located in the beachfront Fairmont along the Isla Verde Beach, the 15,000-square-foot venue will be called the Foxwoods El San Juan Casino. The casino will offer guests slot machines and table games. The casino could also incorporate a sportsbook should the US territory move to legalize such gambling.

The Mashantucket Tribe has been looking to expand its gaming footprint outside of its home state of Connecticut. Tribal Chair Rodney Butler said the Fairmont in Puerto Rico was attractive for several reasons.

It checked so many boxes for us that we were excited to be a part of it,” Butler said today during a press conference at the resort property.

Butler added that he hopes to have the casino project compete later this year and begin operations before 2022. The casino is expected to create around 150 permanent jobs, and generate an annual economic impact of $22 million for the island.

Historic Casino Prepares for New Life

Fairmont acquired the El San Juan resort in 2015. The hotelier initially spent $65 million renovating the property. But that figure nearly doubled after Hurricane Maria ravaged the area — and the hotel — in 2017. Another $60 million was poured into repairs.

While Fairmont brought back the hotel, there’s been no gaming since Maria struck.

The El San Juan casino and hotel first opened in the 1960s, and became an A-list hangout for Hollywood and New York City’s biggest names during the winter months. The resort’s entertainment space — known as the Tropicoro — hosted such legends as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Martin, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, and Paul Anka.

The Mashantuckets and LionGrove’s $12.5 million investment will also bring back the Tropicoro entertainment space.

Mashantucket Follows Neighboring Tribe’s Lead

Connecticut is home to two federally recognized tribes. Along with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the Mohegan Tribe has its roots in Connecticut.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE), the Mohegan Tribe’s gaming entity, has established itself as a power player in the global gaming industry. MGE owns and/or operates casinos in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, Louisiana, and Canada.

Mohegan Gaming will also handle casino operations at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas once it opens. It will mark the first time a Native American tribe operates a casino in Las Vegas.

Mohegan is underway with a multibillion-dollar integrated resort casino complex in Incheon, South Korea. The tribal gaming company is also inching closer to breaking ground on a $1 billion casino destination in Athens, Greece.

Foxwoods El San Juan Casino will be the first casino investment for the Mashantuckets outside of Connecticut.

“Our success and experience with operating Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut will allow us to effectively expand our footprint,” Butler concluded.