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A tribal takeover

February 16. 2013 2:16PM

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The addition of Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City to the Mohegan Sun family of gambling venues will be a "win-win" for the three properties, including Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority said Tuesday.

Speaking a short time after the authority announced a management contract and investment agreement with Resorts, Etess predicted that a cross-marketing system among Resorts, the Plains Township facility and the company's flagship Mohegan Sun Casino Resort in Connecticut would benefit all three.

"We know that we can drive business here," Etess said. "There are people at Pocono Downs who are already going to Atlantic City."

In a survey of customers, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs patrons said they would go to Resorts rather than other Atlantic City casinos if reward points and complimentary amenities were accepted there, Etess said.

Casino industry consultant James Karmel says Mohegan Sun may be seeking to become one of the major players in Atlantic City, where casinos have struggled for years.

"You're probably looking at consolidation," he said.

Etess said a refinancing of Mohegan Sun debt earlier this year "left money in our models to be able to do things like this."

He declined to specify the investment being made in Resorts.

Despite the falloff in business at Atlantic City's casinos – caused in large part by the opening of competitors in Pennsylvania starting in 2006 – Etess said "a tremendous amount of things are happening that are very positive" in private and public investment.

Resorts opened in 1978 as the first place to gamble legally in the U.S. outside of Nevada.

It was sold in 2010 to Dennis Gomes and Morris Bailey for $31.5 million.

Last month, Resorts announced a new venture, teaming with Jimmy Buffett to develop a Margaritaville-branded entertainment complex in part of the casino. The Mohegan Sun's Connecticut casino already has a Buffett-themed restaurant.

Etess said the addition of Resorts could expand opportunities for employees to advance between the various properties.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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