Vegas’ New Virgin Casino To Be Operated By Mohegan Gaming

Written By Marc Meltzer on September 30, 2019Last Updated on March 7, 2022

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) has entered into an agreement to operate the 60,000-square foot casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas (formerly the Hard Rock Hotel) when it opens in late 2020. The deal isn’t 100% set in stone as MGE must receive regulatory approval by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and a faction of other investors purchased the Hard Rock Hotel in 2018 with a plan to make it the first Virgin Hotels property in Las Vegas. Since the original purchase, a timeline for the opening of Virgin has changed a few times, but there seems to be a solid plan in place now.

The Hard Rock will now completely close after the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020. After renovations, the property will reopen as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas around December 2020.

Momentum player loyalty club in Las Vegas

MGE will become the first Native American Tribe to operate in Las Vegas. The partnership will make Virgin the first Las Vegas casino for the Momentum loyalty club. The players
club is also available at the following US casinos:

MGE also operates casinos in Canada and South Korea.

“Aligning the MGE brand with Virgin Hotels Las Vegas extends our growing reach into yet another legendary global entertainment capital. Together with Virgin Hotels, experience seekers all over the world will have the opportunity to partake in an extraordinary guest journey that only our strategic alliance can deliver,” said Mario Kontomerkos, MGE’s chief executive officer.

Kontomerkos told the Las Vegas Review-Journal “We’ve got access to very affluent and very mobile demographics, global demographics,” Kontomerkos said. “When you add that together with Virgin, which also has a very significant, similarly positioned database with all its businesses, I think you have a very powerful opportunity to drive some new visits and new customers into Las Vegas to this property.”

Momentum has a variety of east coast partners. This deal will mark the first time that Momentum members will have access to a Las Vegas casino through this loyalty program. Specific details on Virgin’s loyalty club will be released when the casino opens in late 2020.

Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and chief executive officer of JC Hospitality LLC, owner of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino adds, “MGE further expands on our commitment to partner with best-in-class operators for the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas transformation.”

Mohegan and Momentum both have a sterling reputation among east coast casino guests. This could provide the perfect complement to Virgin’s customers.

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas casino

The specific gaming conditions of Virgin’s casino haven’t been revealed yet. There’s hope that the combination of MGE and Virgin will bring good gaming to Las Vegas. In a press release earlier this year, Virgin repeatedly mentioned this as a casino for locals and tourists.

Gaming for locals traditionally means fair rules and odds for blackjack and video poker. Previously, Hard Rock was not known for player-friendly rules for either game.

CG Technology operates the sportsbook at the Hard Rock. You may remember that CG Technology has a rocky history in Las Vegas. There’s no commitment that they will be retained by MGE. The company currently has a Unibet sportsbook in Pennsylvania and a DraftKings sportsbook in New Jersey.

More ways to access rooms at Virgin Hotels

Virgin is also part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. This is an upscale, global portfolio of more than 70 one-of-a-kind hotels and resorts that are part of Hilton Rewards. It’s also one of the largest international hotel rewards programs.

Virgin Hotels also has its own loyalty club. The Know rewards guests who stay at Virgin Hotels in Chicago and San Francisco. In addition to Las Vegas, there are more Virgin Hotels opening in the next couple of years in the following cities:

More expansion on the horizon for Mohegan Gaming?

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment started at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and slowly expanded to other properties in other cities in the US and abroad. Virgin’s Bosworth also noted in the press release that he is “excited that Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will be their first entry in the Las Vegas market.”

Speculators could read into that quote and wonder if this is the first of multiple partnerships in Las Vegas for MGE. A few years ago they considered purchasing Fontainebleau in Las Vegas. The defunct casino project on the north end of the Vegas Strip is now called The Drew and is slated to open in 2022.

In addition to expanding to Las Vegas, MGE is expanding into other countries. They recently added Casino Niagra and Fallsview Casino Resort in Canada along with Inspire in South Korea. MGE recently partnered with Terna to bid for Greece’s Hellenikon casino project and has plans to obtain a gaming license in Japan.

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Say goodbye to Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas

The Hard Rock will be saying goodbye to its customers with a series of activations from now until it closes in early 2020. The first “Farewell Tour” is underway now. The Hard Rock now has a memorabilia exhibition with 25 years of rock ‘n’ roll collectibles.

The exhibition features artifacts such as costumes, musical instruments, props and artwork not seen by the public in decades by iconic performers including, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Elvis, The Beatles and many more.

Virgin will keep on rockin’ after the Hard Rock closes. AEG Presents will assume the management, operations and booking for The Joint when Virgin opens. They operate venues all over the US, including the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He’s the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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