Commercial Gaming

Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Finally Opens to Fanfare in Vegas

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.

Television star Mario Lopez had the ceremonial first roll of the dice at the Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The off-Strip resort is the first Strip area casino operated by a tribal organization, (Image: Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment)

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.

Casino Grand Opening Delayed

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.

Mohegan Leadership Changes

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.

Steve Bittenbender

Horse Racing, Sports Betting, Gaming Legislation, Midwest and Gulfport Casinos----Steve Bittenbender is a veteran reporter, and brings more than two decades of experience covering sports, gaming business, and politics and legislation to, which he joined in 2019. Based in Louisville, Kentucky -- the epicenter of the US horse racing industry -- Steve has also covered major collegiate and professional sports for the Associated Press and the Louisville Courier Journal, and is frequently featured on local network TV newscasts and podcasts for his horse racing business and legislative expertise. A Reuters contributor, he has also previously served as editor for Government Security News. Steve lives with his wife and son, and is an avid poker player, having learned from his uncle as a wholesome after-school pasttime with cookies and milk. Email:

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  • Mohegan sun sucks in Connecticut, and will suck there they are money hungry, you could play for hours and not win a dime. They are rigged and don’t whatsoever use a players card it’s too coincidental that if you win a decent amount the next two times you will lose double. If you stay away quite awhile and then go back you will win decent amount then the next few times you won’t win anything unless you use no card or different cards.

  • I think he is doing outstanding job continue on I think it nice to I give back to the community. By giving jobs.

  • So as it’s customary to visit a new casino as a diehard vegas resident who loves the excitement and fun of playing tourist on a regular basis , I felt obligated to check out the new Mohegan Sun Indian tribal casino on its opening night .
    As we arrived ,the valet parking was open and available, a huge plus ! So we ventured inside and found the layout somewhat open in certain spots but twisty and confusing in other areas. The place was busy but there where many places to sit and take in the desert sage aroma infused into the casino . So as expected , our party decided to try the new slot machines . There were a decent number of machines available, some older and some new. The older machines are probably left over from the Hard Rick casino or brought in by the tribe. What I mean by older , are the slot machines that have one foot in the grave but still alive and they have a good track record of being cash cows . On several occasions, the slot machines malfunctioned and we had to wait a long time to have a slot attendant fix it . we were a bit frustrated by the long Wait but had no choice but to try to cash out on a machine where the wheels did not want to stop turning . The slot attendant could not fix it and angrily slammed the machine shut and left us hanging. We tried to find someone else to fix the problem, to no avail. The slot attendants wore gray / black clothing with no name tag or identification. Very hard to spot them . So we left that area with credits still in the slot machine .
    Out next attempt was to play some of the new slot machines , at least they wouldn’t break down ! Right ? Well , we felt as though , we were being robbed by the Indian casino’s one arm bandit from hell . On several occasions, it seemed as though the wheels would stop on a winning combination, but a split second later , would move to a non wining position. We were flabbergasted . It reminded my girlfriend of the slot machines at tribal casinos In California. She said they did a very similar move . After spending over $2000 amongst our group of 3 people ,we decided to visit the cashier to get more cash . After waiting over 35 minutes and not getting to the cashier , we decided to get a drink . The cocktail service was slow and
    inefficient. Las Vegas is known for their great bartenders and cocktail servers .we did not feel that they measured up at all . Poor drink service all over the casino was the norm .
    As far as all the hoopla about all the dining options , there wasn’t any way we were going to get anything , since the service was slow at best and impossible to even get a quick bite .
    So the group consensus was to part with the Moheghan’s . So we headed out to the valet , they got our car in no time and as we were chatting with the valet staff, we felt like we were still in Las Vegas and the good old days!
    The valet was our best experience, hands down! The rest is a typical tribal casino( first one in Las Vegas) who is out to get every penny out of you without blinking twice and give you zero pleasure while doing it , the old saying “ BOHICA” which in tribal dictionary means: Bend over here it comes again “ comes to mind . Enjoy Las Vegas , pass on The Moheghan’s tribal casino

  • I worked construction & supervision security for Hard Rock Hotel day shift. 2009- 2011 . I know that Mohegan Sun Casino will be great.

  • They probably should have stayed closed. Made a point on this visit to play there, and the malfunctions and lack of a drink, done.

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Steve Bittenbender