Mohegan Sun Agrees to $60K Fine for Virgin Hotels Las Vegas Opening

Posted on: June 10, 2021, 08:02h. 

Last updated on: June 10, 2021, 09:23h.

The Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas has agreed to pay Nevada $60,000 for COVID-19 violations incurred on its opening night in March.

Mohegan Sun Virgin Las Vegas Mario Lopez
Celebrity Mario Lopez plays craps at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on its opening night back in March. Mohegan Sun, which operates the casino, has settled with the state regarding allegations of COVID-19 regulatory breaches. (Image: Virgin Hotels Las Vegas)

In a complaint brought against the casino by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), state gaming officials say numerous violations of coronavirus health safety protocols were observed. The casino opened on March 25 with celebrities in attendance, including actor and television host Mario Lopez and Melissa and Joe Gorga of Real Housewives of New Jersey fame.

The NGCB complaint accused the casino of failing to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and not enforcing the face mask mandate. Mohegan Sun’s own Twitter account posted a photo of Lopez at a craps table without wearing a mask. 

Newly minted Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment CEO Ray Pineault said the tribal-owned casino operator has agreed to settle the charges for $60,000.

We’ve agreed to settle involving our Nevada property stemming from the incidents that occurred on the night of our opening,” Pineault explained. “As the lead of the organization, I take full responsibility for the lapse in judgment and failure on the part of our team to uphold the standards of the Gaming Control Board on the date in question. 

“Nothing is more important to me and our organization than the safety and security of our team, guests, and the community, and I recognize there is no excuse for this behavior. We take the concerns and violations that were raised very seriously and after becoming aware of the incidents, we took immediate remedial action,” he added.

Not Playing by Own Rules

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) has a multiyear agreement with JC Hospitality, the primary owner of the off-Strip Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, to manage the property’s casino operations. The gaming and hospitality unit of the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, MGE is the first Native American tribe to run a casino in Las Vegas. 

Unlike in Connecticut, where the tribe is not required to adhere to state regulations because Mohegan Sun sits on its sovereign land, its Las Vegas casino must play by Nevada’s rules. 

The Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is an 80,000-square-foot venue featuring 650 slot machines and 50 table games. It’s accompanied by a Betfred sportsbook. 

Commercial Experience

Mohegan is the first tribal gaming operator licensed in Las Vegas. But the firm has vast experience operating outside its sovereign nation in Connecticut. 

MGE owns Mohegan Sun in the Pennsylvania Poconos. It also manages gaming operations at Resorts Atlantic City, as well as two casinos on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls — Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara. Mohegan additionally handles casino operations at the iLani Casino Resort in Washington and Paragon Casino Resort in Louisiana. 

MGE is investing more than $1 billion in Athens to construct an integrated casino resort, and several more billions in South Korea at Incheon International Airport. 

Pineault told the NGCB that he believes MGE is too heavily weighted on development, and plans to put the brakes on any other potential opportunities for the time being.