The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority announced this week it will suspend the next components of its expansion due to uncertainty in the economy and its impact on the region’s gaming market.
Mitchell Etess, president and CEO of the authority, said not even casinos are immune to the economic downturn. “Anybody who follows the industry realizes that this has been felt here and Atlantic City as well as the whole industry,” Etess said. “There are many different projects … that have done the same thing.”
Portions of Project Horizon, including the Casino of the Wind, are completed. The remainder, including a new hotel, restaurants and entertainment venues, were due to open in fall 2010.
Etess stressed that this is a suspension and not a termination. They will re-evaluate in the coming year to determine the feasibility of moving forward. He said the casino continues to believe in the long-term prospects for the business and the region and that they “expect to resume development at Mohegan Sun when market conditions improve over a sustained period.”
The cost of the unfinished portion was an estimated USD 734 million. Cathy Soper, public relations manager for Mohegan Sun, said the casino originally planned to hire about 1,500 new employees for the entire Project Horizon operation. About 300 already have been hired for the portions now open.
Neither Soper nor Etess had figures on the number of construction jobs that could be affected. Though construction unions appeared to be responding quickly to the suspension Monday night, Keith Brothers, president of Laborers’ Local 547 in Groton, said they were not yet prepared to comment.
A statement released by the gaming authority said the authority is in discussions with Bank of America and some of its lenders to work out amendments to their agreements.
The authority, through its Downs Racing subsidiary, also owns and/or operates a number of facilities in Pennsylvania, including Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, which offers slot machines and horse racing.