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Jan 29, 12:46 PM EST

Mohegan Sun casinos post higher 1Q revenue, profit as slots, table games bring in more money



HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The Mohegan Sun casinos, threatened by increasing competition and battered by the worst recession in decades and consumers reluctant to spend money in a weak recovery, delivered some good news Thursday as it reported increases in first-quarter revenue and profit.

Revenue rose at the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, the parent company of the Connecticut and Pennsylvania casinos, as table games and slot machines brought in more money and the casino's hotel in Pennsylvania completed its first full year in business.

In its fiscal quarter ending Dec. 31, revenue was $316.7 million, up 1.2 percent from the same period in fiscal 2014. Profit of $14.8 million compared with a net loss of $67.3 million in the same three months of 2013.

"Although one quarter does not make a trend - and over the last several years we've certainly learned not to be too optimistic - we're nonetheless encouraged by the quarter," Chief Executive Officer Mitchell Grossinger Etess told investor analysts on a conference call.

Several performance measures, including the largest quarterly increase in slot revenue since the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007 - before the start of the recession- indicate that the business is "on the upswing," he said.

The authority said the profit increase was due largely to payment of debt for refinancing before it was due and rising income.

Slot revenue of $197.9 million was up 0.4 percent from last year's first quarter and table game revenue of $79 million rose 4.6 percent.

Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, "benefited from a full period of hotel and convention center operation," the tribal authority said.

A 238-room hotel and 20,000-square-foot convention center debuted in November 2013.

It was the second round of positive financial results reported by the Mohegan Sun this month. On Jan. 15, it announced a 7 percent revenue increase in December, to $49 million, from December 2013. Slot machine bets also rose by 5 percent.

Etess repeated his belief that the Mohegan Sun and its eastern Connecticut neighbor, Foxwoods Resort Casino, could work together to compete with a casino set to open in Springfield, Massachusetts, in a few years.

"Since the tribes have the exclusive right for gaming in Connecticut, it would certainly be an opportunity for that to happen and we think it could," he said.

Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority Management Board, said the Mashantucket Pequots, who operate Foxwoods, and Mohegan tribal officials have maintained "regular and persistent contact" with state legislators. However, they have not formed a partnership and are not seeking to expand gambling, which would likely meet opposition.

"We are jointly interested and jointly pursuing this," he said. "We both have the same impact to be felt and interest in the potential for what we might call reorganizing jobs and revenue within the state of Connecticut, not expanding gaming," he said.

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Follow Stephen Singer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SteveSinger10

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