Mohegan Takes Control of Niagara Gaming Bundle

Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment made its mark on the international gambling industry this week by expanding outside of the United States and into Canada. The business officially took control of the Niagara “gaming bundle,” three casino properties located at Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada.

Based in Connecticut, Mohegan will now run the day-to-day operations of Fallsview Casino Resort, Casino Niagara, and the yet-to-be-completed Niagara Falls Entertainment Centre. It signifies the first foray of Mohegan outside of the United States and the cohesion of several gaming facilities in the Niagara Falls region.

Niagara Gaming Bundle

This week, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE) closed on the management deal for the Niagara gaming bundle. The agreement is for private management only and will be taken over from Falls Management Group.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) will continue to own Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara. Meanwhile, Hilton will move forward with its ownership of the Niagara Falls Entertainment Centre, a 5000-seat theater connected to the two casinos and set to open this year.

It was OLG that chose Mohegan after a thorough and competitive bidding process. Official details for the 22-year deal are not yet available. However, MGE President and CEO Mario Kontomerkos said his company is investing “several hundred million dollars” with the expectation of generating revenue through management fees going forward.

Kontomerkos also noted that the gambling complex already attracts 12.7 million visitors annually. Nevertheless, they intend to make the property even more attractive. “It’s a very exciting opportunity for us – the next stage of our international expansion,” he said.

That international expansion also includes a gaming resort in South Korea that will open in 2022. There is also a potential gaming licence for a property in Japan.

Mohegan has been expanding in recent years. The tribe now has ownership of the first two casinos listed here, and manages all the others:

  • Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut
  • Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
  • Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • ilani in Ridgefield, Washington
  • Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana

About the Mohegans

The Mohegan are a Native American tribe that have been an independent, sovereign nation for more than 350 years. The English recognised the tribe’s sovereignty in the 1600s. It wasn’t until 1994, though, that the Mohegan Nation garnered federal recognition from the United States government.

The tribe’s sovereignty was officially recognised when Congress passed the Mohegan Nation (Connecticut) Land Claim Settlement Act, which required a federal clean-up of a nuclear site on what had been Mohegan reservation lands.

The agreements with the US government also gave the tribe official authorisation to operate gambling establishments on their land. This led to the establishment and opening of Mohegan Sun in October 1996 in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment then expanded to Pennsylvania and beyond, bringing its success to numerous casino properties. Its investment in the Niagara gaming bundle is the first official step outside of the borders of the US.

Effects of New Management

Many changes will be gradual. However, MGE doesn’t seem to have drastic changes planned for the properties at this initial stage of the management takeover.

Upon the initial announcement of the deal in September 2018, MGE noted that its plans included creating a “dynamic entertainment experience that is expected to drive increased visitation to Niagara Falls.”

MGE Senior VP of Business intelligence Anthony Casdia noted the company’s intention to support a “twin-anchor strategy that is critical to the success of tourism” in the region. And the jobs and economic growth to come from the soon-to-open theater will offer more opportunities to draw new visitors.

One of the priorities for OLG and MGE was and is to be competitive with the casino establishments across the border in New York. Niagara Falls wants to be the primary destination of the region for more than just the scenery.

As for the logistics of the management takeover, MGE is now in charge of the day-to-day gaming operations with some strategic oversight by OLG. It was noted that OLG will approve material operational changes and continue its ownership of key player information and payments to be made under the Municipality Agreement.

Fallsview Casino Resort’s website immediately posted an “Exciting News!” bulletin on its website on the day of the takeover. It noted that Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment is now the service provider.

The most immediate change for players will be the transfer from the Players Advantage Club loyalty program to Mohegan’s oversight. Nevertheless, the program will essentially remain the same. The rewards and benefits will not change for the members for the time being.

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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