Virgin Hotels, as the name would imply, is a hotel company, and a small one at that, with only three properties currently open. It is not a gaming company. As such, it could probably use some assistance when Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opens late next year. On Tuesday, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) announced that it has forged a multi-year deal with Virgin to operate the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas casino.
MGE operates several casinos, but it is most notable for its flagship Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. With this partnership, MGE is making its first foray into Las Vegas.
“MGE’s brand presence in the world’s most exciting entertainment environment will establish the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, MGE’s owner, as the first Native American Tribe to operate in the Las Vegas Strip resort corridor,” the company said in a press release.
The property, currently still the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, is situated just off the Las Vegas Strip, east of Paris and Planet Hollywood.
Richard “Boz” Bosworth, is the president and chief executive officer of JC Hospitality LLC, the joint venture between Bosworth Hospitality Partners LLC, the Virgin Group, and Juniper Capital Partners that bought the Hard Rock last year. In a statement, he naturally gushed about the new relationship with MGE:
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, as an extension of the Mohegan Tribe, pride themselves on traditional principles, in sync with modern values. We are excited that Virgin Hotels Las Vegas will be their first entry in the Las Vegas market. MGE further expands on our commitment to partner with best-in-class operators for the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas transformation.
There are still questions surrounding the transition of the Hard Rock to Virgin, specifically as to how much, if any, of the music theme will remain. Richard Branson, head of the Virgin Group, already said the iconic guitar sign will likely come down.
Renovations will be extensive. Virgin originally planned to do a phased renovation over a four-month period and then shut the place down completely for another four months. It was announced last month, though, that the plan just wasn’t going to work and the property would close after the Super Bowl in February 2020 and not re-open until everything was done late in the year.
“We determined that a phased closing of four months, followed by a total closure of four months was not efficient from a construction process nor could we provide a hospitality service experience our guests deserve,” said Bosworth.
With the closure date just a few months away, current Hard Rock employees are likely scrambling to secure positions at other Las Vegas-area casinos. To try to keep as many on board as possible, Virgin has launched the “Stick Around and Come Back” program, which will give employees a bonus of up to ten weeks pay if they stay until the final day in February.
Then, if any Hard Rock employees want to work at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas when it opens next fall or winter, they will be able to get their jobs back without having to re-interview.