Mohegan CEO bullish despite virus pause

By Charlotte Lee Updated
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Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment chief executive Mario Kontomerkos said the industry will bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Kontomerkos spoke about the impact of the pandemic, saying there have been numerous ups and downs in the industry.

“Ever since the industry went mainstream in the United States, there have been ups and downs,” he said.

“It’s an entertainment business at its core, and it’s typically the last to go and the first to come back.

That’s the trend we are seeing now.

“I have to say that while the 75 days of closure during the pandemic was quite uncertain, since opening four of our seven resorts, they have been very strong. Very strong.”

The new safety measures rolled out at casino, including food, drink and smoking restrictions, as well as physical and social distancing won’t hurt the industry, according to Mr Kontomerkos.

“It’s sort of a counterintuitive phenomenon that has happened here,” he said.

“I think when we initially made our forecast about how the newly reopened business would look like, we, of course, included all of the safety measures and protocols – which I believe very strongly are the leading measures in the industry – and that was directed by our board.

“The board gave directions to the company to develop the highest safety standards in the industry, which we did. And I think many jurisdictions are following our lead.”

Mohegan has implemented thermal temperature checks at every entrance, UV air handlers to kill all bacteria in the air and sanitiser every hotel room, as well as glass barriers at every transaction station – at table games, hotel check-ins, food and beverage stations.

“The reason I’m telling you all of this is because it really created a package of safety measures that was really well received by our guests and it’s actually helped our business, believe it or not.”

“When we first modelled the business, we thought it would be down relative to last year. But it’s actually up and I think that’s because people come here and they feel safe.

“Safety is now at a premium when it comes to entertainment offerings, Folks have been locked up for a little while and they want to go out, but they’re uncertain as to where they can go and be safe. They now know our facilities are safe and they are coming and enjoying themselves.”

Mohegan pushes on with South Korea IR

US casino resort operator Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment is on track to complete a multi-billion dollar integrated resort project in Incheon, South Korea by early 2022, despite disruptions caused by the unprecedented health crisis that has gripped the world.

Casino News Daily reported in April that Mohegan Gaming chief executive Mario Kontomerkos said that “work continues and we are working toward our 2022 goal.”

Mohegan Gaming’s South Korea project, known as Inspire Entertainment Resort, involves the construction of a luxury integrated resort with a casino in Incheon, a city located near the capital Seoul that has long been an important transportation hub as it hosts the massive and ultramodern Incheon International Airport.

Mohegan Gaming’s property is set to be developed in several phases, the first of which is slated to be completed and unveiled by 2022.

Phase one of the mega-scheme will include 1,250 hotel rooms, a foreigner-only casino with 700 slot machines and 160 table games, a 15,000-seat entertainment venue, and 40 dining outlets, among other facilities.

According to a previous report by local news outlet Korea Times, the Inspire integrated resort is set to be developed in four phases, with the final one due to be completed by 2031.

The same report by Korea Times claimed that Mohegan Gaming has earmarked some $5 billion for the development of its integrated resort in South Korea over four phases.

It is believed that the company is planning to spend around $1.3 billion on phase one.

Construction on the second phase of the scheme is set to begin in 2021, according to Korea Times.

That phase, too, is set to cost more than $1 billion to the hotel and casino operator.

It will include the addition of a Paramount Pictures-branded indoor theme park that will be “unlike any other in Asia.”

Phase two of the Inspire project is slated to be completed by 2025.

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