The Day – Running the numbers: Mohegan Sun turns 25

Mohegan – In 25 years, Mohegan Sun has amassed some pretty significant numbers.

Since opening on October 12, 1996, the casino has generated $ 25.4 billion in net revenue, paid out $ 4.8 billion in wages and contributed over $ 3.9 billion in slot machine winnings to the general fund. of State.

It attracts 9 million visitors a year, many of whom are drawn to the artists who perform at the Mohegan Sun Arena, which opened in 2001. The arena has hosted some 3,000 paid events that have attracted over 13.5 million of guests. Twenty-seven major artists have started tours in the arena.

Gaming aside, in fact, Mohegan Sun put Southeast Connecticut on the map through its entertainment offerings alone, said Jeff Hamilton, president and CEO of Mohegan Sun, who acknowledged that Foxwoods Resort Casino , neighboring rival Mohegan’s Sun (who had a four-year good start contract) has been instrumental in transforming the region.

“We’ve had world title fights, Aerosmith, Springsteen, U2 and events like Barrett-Jackson and Miss America,” Hamilton said. “We have made hospitality and tourism here much more important than it ever was.”

“In the 80s we were built on defense and some destinations in Mystic, but the casinos changed the dynamic,” he said.

Mohegan Sun continued to fuel the trend during its 25th anniversary celebration, a three-day event that ends on Sunday. The celebration actually kicked off Thursday night with the first of two sold-out Harry Styles concerts in the arena. The second Styles show on Saturday night followed a Friday night performance by Blake Shelton.

Run-DMC played for free on Saturday nights in the casino’s Wolf Den theater.

Hamilton, reflecting on 25 years of Mohegan Sun, noted that more than 450 of Mohegan Sun’s current 5,000 employees were on the payroll when the casino’s doors opened.

He wasn’t one of them.

A freshman at Fitch High School at the time, Hamilton recalled, however, that he visited the casino with his father and sister during private “mock parties” leading up to the casino’s public opening. Limited to playing arcade games, he never imagined he would even end up working at the casino, which he started doing in the summer in college.

Career path

Dan Webster, senior vice president of resort operations at Mohegan Sun, was among the employees who were on board when Mohegan Sun opened 25 years ago. With the exception of the coronavirus-induced 11-week closure in 2020, those doors have never closed.

A longtime resident of Griswold, where he serves on the finance board, Webster trained as an HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) engineer and worked at Backus Hospital in Norwich when he chose Mohegan Sun.

In 2008 he was Chief Engineer, overseeing all engineering departments, and in 2013 he was promoted to Vice President of Facilities Operations, placing him in charge of the transportation and safety departments in addition to l ‘engineering.

Being instrumental in the planning and execution of Mohegan Sun’s security plan for reopening in June 2020 after the COVID-19 shutdown, Webster was appointed to his current position in September 2020. He added to his responsibilities the hotel, housekeeping, environmental services, food and beverage services, banquets and convention services, putting it in charge of all non-gaming operations.

Ten managers report to Webster, which oversees some 1,700 to 2,000 employees, including 180 to 190 traders.

“When I got here I was looking for a place that offered some room for advancement,” he said. “At the time, the options were the sub-base, the EB (electric boat) or the hospital. I thought I would gain experience and move on, but the advancement came quickly, I had good colleagues and I found that Mohegan Sun had the same core values ​​as me. You have been respected and listened to.

“… There you go, it’s 25 years later,” he said. “I thought I would be here three to five years at the most.”

Not everyone thought Webster was making the right decision when he signed with Mohegan Sun. His parents and siblings questioned the wisdom of leaving the hospital to work for the area’s second casino. Some have wondered if the region could even support a second casino.

“My mom also worked at Backus and retired after a long career there,” Webster said. “When I told her I was leaving to pursue my career, she was worried and that scared me a little.”

But less than a year after Mohegan Sun opened, it was clear he was here to stay, Webster said. Plans for a huge expansion were already beginning to take shape.

“When I talk to my mom today, she says, ‘I can’t believe I tried to talk you out of it,” he said.

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