Mohegans interested in A.C. gambling?

January 30, 2008 3:36:31 PM PST
The Mohegan Indian tribe in Connecticutte is casting its gaze south to Atlantic City. The tribe already runs one of the nation's most successful casinos.

Officials with the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., have already expressed interest in the Tropicana Casino and Resort. The Tropicana was forced into a sale in December when the state Casino Control Commission stripped its former owners of their casino license following a year of poor performance, massive layoffs, and customer complaints.

But the Mohegans have also been in talks with Trump Entertainment Resorts about possibly acquiring the Trump Marina Hotel Casino, two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press Wednesday. They refused to be identified out of fear of jeopardizing a potential deal.

The tribe's interest in Trump Marina was first reported by The Star-Ledger of Newark.

Jeffrey Hartmann, the Mohegan Sun's chief operating officer, would not discuss his company's interest in specific Atlantic City properties, but said the market is one the Mohegans are considering.

"We're looking for opportunities to grow our company," he said. "We are one of the dominant players in the East Coast gaming market, and our brand resonates with East Coast players. We're looking for the right opportunity to leverage what we've built in Connecticut."

The Mohegans are the latest party to show interest in one or more of Trump's three Atlantic City casinos. A deal was nearly reached last summer to sell all three to a group led by former casino executive Dennis Gomes, but it fell through. Others have also expressed varying degrees of interest in the Trump casinos.

Mohegan Sun is undergoing a $925 million expansion that is to include a 38-story, 1,000-room hotel with a spa, a House of Blues music hall and more slot machines, stores and restaurants.

Last year, the Mohegan Sun opened slot machines at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania and is working on projects in several other states.