Mohegans Report 38% Drop In Profits, Ending Lease On Palmer, Mass.

The Hartford Courant

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority on Tuesday reported dramatic declines in earnings and profits in the quarter that ended June 30.

Net income, or profit, of $13.9 million was down 38 percent over the same three-month period the previous fiscal year, while EBITDA — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — of $69.1 million was down 19 percent.

The authority, the gaming arm of the Mohegan Tribe, owns and operates Mohegan Sun in Uncasville and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

"Although we were able to gain market share in both Connecticut and Pennsylvania during the quarter, the overall lack of confidence in the economy and decline in discretionary dollars continue to be a challenge," Mitchell Etess, the authority's chief executive officer, said in a statement issued before a conference call with investors. "However, we remain focused on improving efficiencies at our properties to reflect the current environment.

"In addition, we are aggressively pursuing opportunities for gaming licenses in new markets such as Revere [Mass.] and Philadelphia, both of which are expected to be resolved in the not too distant future, as well as the Catskills, which is on a slightly longer time frame."

The authority attributed the steep decline in EBITDA and operating income at Mohegan Sun to lower slot-machine revenue. Slot volumes at both Mohegan Sun and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs were the result of "a continued sluggish regional economic environment and competitive gaming markets," the authority said.

On Monday, Mohegan Sun confirmed that it was terminating its lease of the Palmer, Mass., property where it had once hoped to develop a $1 billion resort casino and water park. The 152-acre site is owned by Northeast Realty Associates.

Mohegan Sun's hopes for a western Massachusetts casino were dashed last November when Palmer voters narrowly rejected the plan in a referendum vote. Almost immediately, Mohegan Sun turned its attention to the Greater Boston area and a casino site owned by the Suffolk Downs thoroughbred track. Northeast Realty filed a lawsuit, alleging the casino had breached an "exclusivity agreement."

Mohegan Sun denied the allegation and later filed a countersuit.

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