The CEO of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) is abruptly leaving the tribal casino business. His employment will end March 31, 2021.
Mario Kontomerkos joined the Mohegan Tribe’s gaming unit in 2011 as chief financial officer. He arrived from Penn National Gaming, where he served as vice president of finance.
Kontomerkos was elevated to CEO in 2017. He was instrumental in the tribe’s plans to expand internationally. MGE is currently developing integrated casino resorts in South Korea and Greece and hopes to win one of Japan’s three forthcoming casino licenses.
COO Ray Pineault has been appointed interim CEO. Gessner Jr. added that a thorough nationwide search for Kontomerkos’ permanent successor will be conducted. Pineault has been with MGE for more than 20 years.
Along with its flagship Mohegan Sun casino property in Connecticut, MGE owns and/or operates casinos in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Nevada, Washington, Louisiana, and Canada.
Mohegan Gaming provided no explanation as to why Kontomerkos is leaving the organization. It was less than a year ago that the MGE boss told Casino.org that his “main job is to provide for the next generation of tribal members and then their next generation.
“It’s always been a very long-term approach,” Kontomerkos explained of MGE’s response to COVID-19. “We’re very, very excited about where the business is, and from a longer-term perspective, with the geographical diversification, we’ll be able to withstand these types of things even more.”
Kontomerkos’ tenure as CEO wasn’t overly celebrated by the tribe. Other than Gessner Jr.’s brief statement, the MGE release on his resignation focused more on Pineault’s ability to lead the group in the interim.
“Ray has served his Tribe for over two decades in various roles and capacities, and we look forward to his continued guidance,” the press release stated.
Kontomerkos’ shocking announcement comes the same week as Mohegan’s Connecticut tribal rival announced a new CEO.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation this week named Jason Guyot as its permanent CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino. Guyot had been serving in the role on an interim basis since last April.
Both tribes’ flagship casinos in Connecticut are struggling. And they have been for years. New England is now saturated with casino resorts, meaning no longer do regional residents need to drive to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun to gamble.
The state’s 25 percent share of revenue generated by the tribes’ slot machines hit an all-time high of $433.6 million in 2006. Prior to the pandemic, the state’s share was down to $245.4 million. During COVID-19, Connecticut received just $164.2 million from the slot terminals.