MGE Nevada License Approved by Regulators, Set to Become First Tribal Operator in Las Vegas

Posted on: October 9, 2020, 05:07h. 

Last updated on: October 9, 2020, 07:32h.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) unanimously recommended licensing approval for Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE), along with a dozen of its executives and tribal officers, in a two-hour hearing on Wednesday.

MGE is expected to become the first tribal operator to run a casino in Las Vegas following the gaming commission’s decision in two weeks’ time. (Image: Virgin Hotels)

Should the gaming commission (NGC) ratify the board’s decision as expected in two weeks’ time, MGE will become the first tribal gaming outfit to hold a license in the Silver State and the first to run a casino in Las Vegas.

MGE is the business development wing of the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut.

MGE will operate the Virgin Las Vegas, formerly the Hard Rock Las Vegas. New owners Virgin Hotels and Juniper Capital Partners have completed their $200 million revamp of the property and hope to open in January 2021. The opening date has been bumped from this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Spirit of Aquai

The board heard that the tribe’s goal is to be the most transparent tribal operator in the US. MGE strives to embrace the “Spirit of Aquai” – “a centuries-old guiding philosophy that encourages a warm and welcoming atmosphere, passionate and dedicated employees based on mutual respect, providing outstanding service that goes above the beyond, and building productive long-term relationships,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The board was suitably impressed. But it’s money that talks, and so it was also pleased to hear about the steady flow of funding into the project from the Mohegan tribe, especially during the pandemic.

Greece-ing the Brakes

Meanwhile, money was also doing the talking for MGE this week in Greece. The Hellenic Gaming Association announced the operator had submitted a €150 million ($177 million USD) bid for the sole casino license for the €8 billion ($9.4 billion USD) Hellinikon resort project on the site of Athens’ former international airport.

MGE won a bidding war against the Seminole tribe’s Hard Rock International by default. Hard Rock was excluded from the process on a technicality after documents submitted failed to meet the financing criteria.

Last month, Greece’s highest court, the Council of State, rejected Hard Rock’s challenge of the decision, paving the way for MGE to negotiate the terms of the 30-year casino license.  

MGE’s offer of €150 million this week is five times the minimum €30 million ($35 million USD), which will put it in an advantageous position for negotiation from the get-go.

MGE and its local construction partner have said they are ready to break ground on the project as soon as they get the green light.