The Mohegan Sun has entered an agreement to purchase a portion of Resorts World Casino, the roaring 1920s Prohibition-era themed casino located on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. (Courtesy

Mohegans Get Approval to Manage Atlantic City Casino, Seminoles Back Out of AC Hard Rock Plans


On Friday, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission (CCC) approved the Mohegan Gaming Advisors (MGA) to run the day-to-day affairs of the Atlantic City, New Jersey-based Resorts Casino Hotel ("Resorts") and to buy 10 percent of the company, reported The Press of Atlantic City.

During a recent press conference at Resorts, owner Morris Bailey called the new relationship “an ideal formula for success; melding the unique Resorts brand with Mohegan’s reputation for unparalleled service and guest experience.”

MGA is a subsidiary of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA), which operates the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, and the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in northeast Pennsylvania. MTGA additionally hopes to win one of the remaining two licenses to operate a commercial casino in Palmer, in western Massachusetts. Resorts was the first casino established in Atlantic City (in 1978) and the first legal U.S. casino outside of Nevada.

MGA will oversee Resorts' planned $35.5 million renovation and expansion—including two restaurants, a bar, retail shops and expanded gaming—scheduled for completion by May 2013.

"This is a critical time in Atlantic City," said Matthew Levinson, chairman of the New Jersey CCC, which approved the management agreement on September 14. "The state and the industry are focusing their efforts to transform the city into a well-rounded destination resort. With our approval of this agreement, Mohegan will be able to implement policies and practices that have helped to make its Connecticut casino one of the most successful ever. I want to see Mohegan bring that kind of success to Resorts."

The CCC decision—allowing the Mohegan Tribe to become the first Indian-owned casino operator in Atlantic City—came just two days after the Seminole Tribe of Florida abandoned its plans to build a new "boutique" Hard Rock Casino on the Atlantic City boardwalk, reported The Seminoles attributed their withdrawal to the weak economy and intense competition from casinos in other New England states.

The Hard Rock International franchise, purchased by the Seminole Tribe of Florida in December 2006, sought a permit in June 2011 to build one of two new small oceanfront casinos as part of a 2011 pilot program, which allows approved casinos to open with just 200 rooms before expanding to reach the 500-room benchmark normally required.

The Seminoles had partnered with New York-based Och-Ziff Real Estate to build the casino. The opening date for the Hard Rock in Atlantic City was previously slated for January 2015.

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stevenorton's picture
Submitted by stevenorton on
The cancellation of the Hard Rock project is not bad news. It was a project that shouldn't have been approved in the first place. The justification for the special Legislation, would have required some new unique feature, that would increase overall demand for Atlantic City. Their proposed feature, a historic music museum, didn't have the drawing power or the critical mass to even support their own casino, much less bring millions of new visitors to AC. What would have made more sense, if Hard Rock and the Seminole Tribe really were interested in our resort; would have been to acquire Trump Plaza or the Atlantic Palace and renovate and expand one of them. And, with the bargain prices available today, it wouldn't have had to cost the Tribe any more than building a new 200 room project, and they would have started with over 900 rooms. Most of Hard Rock's customers would have been stolen from those AC resorts already suffering, and would help speed up the closure of one or more marginal properties. Kudos however to Resorts, Mohegan Sun and to New Jersey's approval of the Margaritaville project, which adds a meaningful new amenity to the City, without adding another casino, with unneeded new gaming capacity.