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Mohegan Sun takes gamble with online casino for NJ

Bobby Soper, Mohegan Tribal Gaming President

Mohegan Sun enters New Jersey's online casino market this week with a real-money gambling website, Mohegansun.com

The gaming and entertainment conglomerate is now the 17th licensed site operating in the Garden State, following in the footsteps of Caesars, Borgata and Golden Nugget.

Mohegan Sun, created in 1996 by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, is one of the largest casino resorts on the East Coast, with 10,000 employees, 6,500 slot machines, 377 table games and race book. Income from operations was nearly $50 million in the first quarter.

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So, why is a bricks-and-mortar casino as enormous and well known as Mohegan moving to Atlantic City, at least virtually?

"We are a growing company and the online gaming platform is a progression of where gaming, or at least a segment of gaming, is going,"said Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority President Bobby Soper, in a "Power Lunch" interview on CNBC Wednesday.

Mohegansun.com offers casino slots and video poker via the Web and will soon offer products on the App Store and Android. It expects to generate an estimated $800,000 in monthly revenue by the end of 2015.

The Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan tribes — which run the thriving Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, respectively — currently give Connecticut 25 percent of their gross slots revenues in return for exclusive rights to all casino games, a deal that produced about $270 million for the state in 2017. 
Jessica Rinaldi | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

"The online gaming opportunity is significant in the United States," Soper said. "While only a $100 million dollar industry within in the United States, it is a $40 billion market worldwide, and growing at a pace of almost 30 percent. We want to be in early and take advantage of all the opportunities."

Currently in a soft-launch phase, the site officially launches 24/7 once the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement grants approval.

Beyond online and U.S. borders, Mohegan is looking toward Asia for growth.

Soper says Mohegan aims to siphon off part of Macau's $40 billion dollar casino market with a bid to build a massive $1.6 billion dollar entertainment and gaming complex in South Korea, in partnership with Incheon Airport Group.

"Our bid in South Korea presents an incredible opportunity for Mohegan," Soper said. "Seoul is the closest gaming jurisdiction to Beijing and Shanghai, with over 700 million potential customers just a two-hour airline flight away."

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Worldwide, gambling revenues climbed to more than $450 billion last year and are predicted to reach $525 billion by 2019.

However, the report from Global Betting and Gaming Consultants also predicted global growth would fall to just 1 percent in 2015 due to reduced revenues in the Asian gambling hub of Macau, but would quickly climb to 4.1 percent in 2016.