Recent news reports suggest that New Jersey Casino Control Commission has approved an agreement between the management of Resorts Casino Hotel and Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority to invest in online operations of the hotel. The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority is owned by investors of Mohegan Tribe, who applied for the online gambling proceeds from the investment in the online operations of Resorts Casino Hotel. According to the terms of agreement, NJCCC allowed MTGA to invest in the online operations of the New Jersey based casino. However, it also confirmed that MTGA did not get approval for increasing its share of the brick-and-mortar operations of Resorts Casino Hotel from the original 10% to 25%.
Background of the Agreement
Located in Atlantic City, Resorts Casino Hotel is a popular casino for poker players who compete in various regional competitions. Established in 1978, the casino has 90 tables including 8 tables dedicated to the game of Poker. In addition to the 2,500 games on its premises, the casino also operates as a hotel with popular dining options and health spa. The Mohegan Tribe became interested in running the operations of the Casino when it lost one of its founding members Dennis Gomes. Since several years, Dennis was the main authority behind operations of Resorts Casino Hotels, until his untimely death in 2012. At the time, lead investor Morris Bailey was on a lookout for suitable management. MTGA, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, saw the opportunity to enter New Jersey market by signing a deal that gave the company 10% ownership stake in the casino and license to manage its operations. Fortunately, the deal was also approved by NJCCC who saw the agreement vital for continuing operations of the Atlantic City landmark. In a statement, NJCCC chairman Mathew Levinson, applauded the original agreement citing it as an important step to attract visitors to Atlantic City.
Experts agree that the current agreement is also a landmark event in the history of Mohegan Tribe, who will gain access to the lucrative online gambling market in New Jersey. In 1994, the Mohegan Tribe gained federal status as an independent entity. Just a year later, officials from the tribe were able to attract investment from Sol Kerzner, who envisioned the idea of opening a grand resort in Connecticut. Accordingly, Mohegan Sun was planned as the first gambling resort under the direct management of Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, MTGA. The success of the grand resort culminated into opening of a similar casino in Pocono Mountains, called Mohegan Sun Pocono. The sole aim of opening a resort in Pocono was to offer gambling access to the resident of Tri-State area. However, the current deal with Resorts Casino Hotel offers exclusive access to the online operations enabling stakeholders of MTGA to cash in online revenues generated from gambling revenues at resortscasino.com.
Role of Casinos
Traditionally, online casinos and their brick-and-mortar counterparts operate on different spheres. For instance, traditional casinos usually shun technology because experienced gamblers mostly like to play with the dealer or compete with opposite pairs. Besides, traditional casinos are designed to attract amateur visitors who usually expect small prizes. In contrast, online casinos try to generate revenues from online players regardless of their skill levels. Accordingly, the website is designed to draw in gamblers by offering signing bonuses. Yet the current agreement between MTGA and Resorts Casino Hotel will enable MTGA to offer resort guests the best of both worlds. In simple words, guests will be able to access online gaming features first-hand on the casino floor.
Benefits for MTGA
The settlement was made possible by a New Jersey legislature that allowed gambling operators to resume online operations in physical casinos for a 10 year term on a trial basis. The trial allows New Jersey to verify the success of such operations before approving any long-term agreements. Until now, the access is only granted to casinos operating in Atlantic City. Taking advantage of the law, MTGA and stakeholders of Resorts Casino Hotel opened the first ever internet gambling space at resortscasino.com, which allows thousands of visitors to experience online gambling while on the casino floor. By offering a mixed environment, the management hopes to achieve greater revenues as more novice gamblers and amateurs can also reap greater rewards. Interestingly, MTGA used its NJ license to launch a similar initiative in Connecticut at the famed Mohegan Sun.
There is yet another reason for MTGA to initiate an agreement with the Resorts Casino Hotel. Recently, Resorts Casino i-gaming arm announced a partnership with PokerStars brand. In near future, Resorts Casino aims to open an online website dedicated to poker. Making use of the current NJ legislature, the poker room will be themed after PokerStars providing physical and online access to Poker players visiting the Casino. In the future, it is entirely possible that MTGA may also ask for the approval of shares from PokerStars online operations at Resorts Casino Hotel.
Already, the current agreement between MTGA and Resorts Casino Hotel allows MTGA to provide oversight into many aspects of i-gaming operations. These include selection of games for the casino and configuration of the gaming floor. Interestingly, both of these elements play a vital role in revenue generation. It is unclear how MTGA will invest in i-gaming arm of the casino, but the provision allows it to handle the main functions until, 2019.