Celebrities and reality television stars were among those on hand Thursday to christen the Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, the city’s newest casino resort.
The event at the off-Strip resort was a historic occasion, as it marked the opening of the first tribal-operated casino in the Las Vegas Strip area.
The casino resort brings together several big names in the hospitality and leisure industry, as the Virgin Hotel is part of the Hilton Curio Collection. JC Hospitality owns the property.
The Mohegan casino features 650 slot machines and nearly 60 table games across a 60,000-square-foot gaming area. A Betfred sportsbook is also slated for the property. The hotel features more than 1,500 rooms across three towers, and the resort includes a five-acre pool, an event lawn, and a 4,500-seat live stage theater.
Among those on hand at the event were Saved By The Bell star and Access Hollywood host Mario Lopez and Matt James, the latter the lead on season 25 of The Bachelor.
The new casino resort is on the grounds of the former Hard Rock Hotel, which closed in February 2020 for the extensive remodeling and rebranding project.
At the time, the Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas was expected to open that fall. However, the grand opening was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials announced the March 25 opening date last month.
JC Hospitality President and CEO Richard Bosworth noted the struggles the region endured over the past year at the grand opening gala.
May Las Vegas live in a world where we never have to close doors again to our resorts,” Bosworth said at the door-opening event.
The exact investment amount was not released. However, Bosworth’s LinkedIn page said it was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. More than 300 employees of the Hard Rock Hotel – which was not affiliated with Hard Rock International – were working on the Mohegan Sun’s opening night.
Resort officials are also hopeful its no resort fee policy will help it attract visitors away from competitors from nearby on the Strip.
On hand for the grand opening was Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment COO Ray Pineault. He’ll become the company’s interim CEO later this week when Mario Kontomerkos leaves the company.
In his remarks at the opening, he explained why the event was a special one.
“I know opening casinos may not be a monumental occasion for Las Vegas, as you do it regularly. But bringing a Native American tribe to be the first tribe operating in the Strip corridor is a monumental occasion, something we’re very proud of,” he said.
Meanwhile, the man Kontomerkos replaced is back with Mohegan Gaming. On Thursday, The New London Day reported that Bobby Soper will become the president of the company’s international gaming division.
Soper’s departure from the company four years ago coincided with his failing to reveal he had an ownership stake in a marketing company that did business with Mohegan Sun Pocono. He paid a $60,000 fine to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.