Most of the attention Mohegan Sun Pocono received at last week’s Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting surrounded its pitch to offer legalized sports betting in Pennsylvania.
However, the plans to update and renovate the casino property generated several raised eyebrows from board members.
The casino intends to close its original casino area, relocate and renovate its poker room, and reduce table games in specific areas on the property. Most surprisingly, Mohegan aims to remove more than 400 slot machines around the casino.
Mohegan modification causes PGCB concern
Anthony Carlucci, president and general manager of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, detailed how the property’s sportsbook will take the place of an old electronics store. He emphasized that this allows Mohegan to avoid moving or removing slot machines.
Yet the casino certainly plans to reduce its slots. By quite a bit.
All told, Mohegan hopes to rid itself of 405 slots, roughly 17% of its inventory. If approved, this would be one of the largest reductions in PA casino history.
The PGCB grilled Carlucci and his associates about this drastic decrease. The board wanted to understand “how much of this decision is a function of the physical limitations of your space as opposed to what’s optimal.”
“I can stress to you this, if we were opening the casino today, we’d be going with this number or less,” Calucci responded.
Closure of “old” casino sticking point with PGCB
The major step in Mohegan’s modification plan involves shutting down the original casino space on property.
This phase features the majority of slot reductions. There are 383 machines in the original casino.
It was observed that Mohegan is “really in an all-or-nothing proposition” with this step of the process. Mohegan, though, remained confident that this decision was best for business. Carlucci again emphasized that if the casino was about to open, it would do so with this reduced number of slots.
Casino reps explained this area is “disjointed” from the main floor and its amenities. The old area requires high maintenance costs, money that Mohegan said is better used elsewhere.
Those 383 slot machines, on average, are 11 years old, according to Mohegan reps.
New poker room to neighbor Mohegan sportsbook
Part of the casino’s goal is to move its poker room to an area behind the incoming PA retail sportsbook.
“We see a lot of cross between the poker customer and the sportsbook customer,” Carlucci said. “We believe the table game play has a lot more crossover than slots.”
The byproduct is the room’s number of tables decreasing from 18 to eight. So, too, is the removal of 109 slot machines.
Mohegan noted that the old poker room presented little to no opportunity for “impulse/cross-over/curiosity” play by patrons. By moving it near the sportsbook, the poker room will become more visible to customers. The casino estimated that relocated and remodeling the poker room would cost over $400,000.
Still more planned for Mohegan modification
Mohegan’s casino reconfiguration has plenty more included.
The casino aims to increase the number of High Limit slots by 16 units while also creating a non-smoking area for guests.
Mohegan also would add 73 slots machines to a space vacated by nine table games, which Mohegan would remove while also designated another non-smoking area.
These tables, Mohegan noted, are closed “approximately 90% of the time,” which justifies its choice to take them out.
The conversation, however, continued to return to the removal of a high number of slot machines, which is at the core of Mohegan’s modification plans.
The casino, though, pointed out that its intentions “will cause no projected reduction in revenue or staffing.” And, in fact, the PA Office of Enforcement Counsel noted that the requested slots to be removed are among the bottom 25 percent, in terms of revenue, at the Mohegan.