Last updated: February 17. 2013 4:08AM - 96 Views

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Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs President and CEO Bobby Soper will leave the casino to head Mohegan Sun's flagship gaming resort in Uncasville, Conn.

Soper has headed the local casino since Mohegan Sun took over Pocono Downs in 2005, and has overseen significant expansion of the casino during his tenure. He supervised its opening as a slots-only facility in 2006, the addition of table games in 2010 and the groundbreaking on a new $50 million 238-room hotel and convention center at the Plains Township property this year.

"It's been a good ride, and the property has certainly evolved over the past six years," Soper said. "But I'm one person amongst 1,700 that are responsible for its growth."

Soper said Mike Bean, current assistant general manager of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, will replace him as president and CEO.

While excited, Soper said he has mixed feelings about leaving the Plains Township casino to head the larger flagship location in Connecticut.

"It's a great opportunity to be at the helm of one of the most spectacular entertainment destinations in the country and to be reunited with some of my former colleagues," he said. "But my wife and I have developed a lot of friendships and relationships in this community, and this community has opened its arms to us; so we're certainly going to miss that, but we won't be strangers."

Soper and Mohegan Sun forged numerous partnerships with the surrounding community during his tenure. He served as chairman of the United Way's board and sat on boards or coordinated events with other local charities, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of The Bridge and the Salvation Army.

Soper said the charitable involvement of Mohegan Sun will not fade in his absence.

"The reality is nothing's going to change here at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs," Soper said. "We're a community-minded organization. My team here is very community minded. … I feel very comfortable that this property will continue to be integrated into the fabric of the community, and the reality is it's the team here that has really made Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs what it is today."

Soper will return to casino where he began his career. One of about 1,700 members of the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, Soper started as legal council for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority in 1997 and became a senior vice president of the Connecticut casino in 2001.

Soper will replace former CEO Jeff Hartmann, who left the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut on Wednesday and had served as its CEO since 2011. There he will take the helm of a casino that has seen declining revenues as revenues at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs have risen.

According to The Day newspaper of New London, Conn., the Connecticut Mohegan Sun will lay off more than 300 employees by the end of October – the casino's second mass layoff since 2010.

Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, and casino executives attributed the layoffs to declining revenues from weak economic recovery and increased competition in the northeast casino market, according to The Day's report.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority said in its latest financial report, for the three months ending June 30, that income from operations at the Connecticut casino fell 20 percent from 2011, while it rose 40 percent at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Gaming revenues grew 3.2 percent at the Plains Township casino, but fell 9.2 percent in Connecticut.

The Connecticut flagship is also much larger by every measure than Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. It has nearly 6,000 slot machines compared to 2,300, and 300 table games versus 66 at the local casino.

The Connecticut casino reported $1.1 billion in net revenue for the last fiscal year, while the Plains Township complex that includes a harness racing track had revenues of just over $300 million.

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