Hundreds of Poker players in Connecticut are mourning the loss of their favorite poker room. The Mohegan Sun officially shut down operation of their poker room at midnight on September first.
Casino executives announced in July that they are closing the poker room and installing 275 slot machines in the room by December.
They hope to double the amount of gaming profit in the same space from $6 million to $12 million annually. They have not yet announced a theme for the new slot-machine room or said what denomination of coin the units will accept. Rumors were that the new slot room would contain on nickel machines.
There were also rumors that the poker room would reopen in six months with a complete new staff. William J. Velardo, Mohegan Sun’s chief executive officer, president and general manager said it was “strictly a business decision” that had nothing to do with the people who worked inside the poker room.
For Connecticut Poker Players the closing of the Mohegan room leaves only Foxwoods Casino which has already become increasing crowded with the new popularity of poker that has spread across the country, due in part by the coverage of the World Poker Tour on the Travel channel. The poker room regulars, who often have to wait for a table at Mohegan Sun, simply could not believe the executives’ statements that there are not enough players in the local market to support card rooms at both of the region’s casinos.
Kathy Raymond, director of poker at Foxwoods, said last week that Foxwoods is doing everything possible to accommodate the displaced poke players. Weekends are so busy that players are no longer allowed to call in and reserve a seat. They must sign up and wait for a table when they get to the Poker room. The room contains 54 poker tables and four novelty poker games, and managers are researching “a limited increase within the realm of our own space,” according to Raymond.
Weekend Poker tournaments at Foxwoods have been selling out so fast that lines form a few hours ahead of time. She said players helped solve a problem with long lines forming for tournaments by suggesting the casino hand out numbers.
Two years ago the Mohegan Sun closed down their Unique Casino Bingo Hall and opened up a smoke free slot room in its place. Now the Poker room is closing to make way for more slot machines. Some of the craps tables and other gaming tables have also been removed to add new slot machines. One player commented that the name of the casino should be changed to the Mohegan Slot Palace. While slot machines are the most profitable casino game there would seem that there is a need to preserve the true essence of the casino by offering services and games that will accommodate all players.
For the time being the thousands of Connecticut poker players will mourn their loss.