Tribe that runs Mohegan Sun will run Atlantic City's Resorts Casino

A Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville restaurant will be part of Resorts Casino under the casino's new partnership agreement.
A Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville restaurant will be part of Resorts Casino under the casino's new partnership agreement. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 08, 2012

Atlantic City's oldest casino - Resorts Casino Hotel - plans to announce a new partnership Tuesday with the Native American tribe that operates the Mohegan Sun Casino complex in Connecticut.

Industry sources say the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority will take over the operations of Resorts, becoming the first tribe to have a presence in Atlantic City.

In February, Resorts lost half its ownership with the sudden death of its former CEO and veteran Atlantic City operator, Dennis Gomes. The absence of Gomes raised questions about the casino's future. Gomes had purchased Resorts with New York real-estate magnate Morris Bailey in December 2010 for $34 million and revamped it with a 1920s theme, complete with flappers.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority is expected to assume all administrative functions, as well as marketing and accounting, according to sources with knowledge of the partnership.

The news conference at Resorts' Starlight Room will come two weeks after Resorts announced the arrival of Jimmy Buffett and a Margaritaville-themed section to the property. Gov. Christie and singer/songwriter Buffett appeared together on the Boardwalk to mark the event. There is a similar Margaritaville Cafe at Mohegan Sun in southeastern Connecticut.

The partnership between Resorts and Buffett will create a Margaritaville-themed restaurant, bar, and surf shop on the site of the former Steeplechase Pier, which was behind Resorts before it was destroyed in a fire in 1988.

Planned is a 400-seat Margaritaville Cafe inside Resorts, with 40 additional seats on the Boardwalk. The complex also is to include a LandShark Bar & Grill on the beach, a year-round venue; a Five O'Clock Somewhere Bar; and a Margaritaville restaurant, retail shops, and coffee shop along Resorts' Boardwalk facade.

The changes are intended to boost one of Atlantic City's smallest gambling halls, which continues to struggle amid internal and external competition. Resorts, which opened May 26, 1978, ranked 10th among the dozen city casinos in total casino revenue for June. July revenue are to be released Friday.

Mohegan Sun is listed as one of the largest casinos in the United States, with 364,000 square feet of gaming space. It is situated on a 240-acre tract on the banks of the Thames River near the Rhode Island border. It includes the 12,000-seat capacity Mohegan Sun Arena, home of the Women's National Basketball Association's Connecticut Sun.

In addition to its flagship property, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority also owns Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs - a racetrack with a casino - in Wilkes-Barre. The casino ranked seventh among 11 gambling halls in Pennsylvania in gross slots revenue last month, at $20.5 million. It also came in seventh in table-games revenue for June, the latest monthly data available, at $3.4 million. The casino broke ground last month for a hotel and convention center.

Gaming analysts say Resorts stands to benefit from having the tribe as a partner.

"In general, with their properties in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, any additional exposure to the Mohegan brand in the Northeast market is going to be a positive," said gaming analyst Greg Roselli, of UBS Securities L.L.C. "The Mohegan management team is very well-regarded. It can only benefit Resorts by having their experience and footprint on board."


Contact Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

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