Mohegan’s Major Moolah

Maybe somebody could have used a new calculator for Christmas. Executives at the Mohegan Sun Casino Uncasville, Conn., announced December 13th that construction estimates were a little bit off for the expansion project – about $185 million off, bringing the total cost to $925 million.

The increase was blamed on a bad construction estimate from an unnamed construction firm and rising costs for steel, glass and concrete, according to The Day.

Most of the plans for the 1.4 million-square-foot expansion, "Project Horizon," will remain the same. There’s a 39-story hotel tower and a 1,500-capacity House of Blues music hall that are set to open in 2010 and a new casino scheduled to open in fall of 2008. In addition, the project includes new shops and restaurants.

What has changed slightly is the number of hotel rooms – 922 instead of 1,000 – and the location of the project. The project has been moved slightly to save a 1,200-space parking garage that was going to be demolished, and that will instead be renovated. A 1,700-space garage will also be added. And instead of a bowling alley, there will be a sports bar, according to The Day.

The Mohegan Tribal Council approved the new $925 million budget but one thing the tribe may not approve of is how much the casino executives have been taking home in their paychecks for the last six years.

During that time the Trading Cover partnership, made up of Mohegan Sun investors Sol Kerzner and Len Wolman, was paid $368.9 million in resort and casino proceeds compared to the $367.5 million that went to the tribe, according to the Boston Globe.

Although the tribe declined to say how the earnings are distributed, if you divide that among the tribe’s 1,700 members, it’s about $38,000 a year each. The current annual payment that goes to Trading Cove each year is about $75 million.

A lawyer for Trading Cove told the Globe that the payments to the partnership are justified because the duo took "significant risks" in their investments in the casino.

The deal hasn’t made some members of the Mohegan tribe too happy.

"It was supposed to be for the tribe, not outsiders," Carlisle Fowler, the Mohegan former tribal treasurer, said.

Following the announcement of the expansion’s new price tag and the light that was shone on the investor’s fat paychecks, the Mohegan Sun was in the news again in late December for plans to possibly take over Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino and Resort.

The Tropicana lost its license December 12th when New Jersey casino regulators determined the owners weren’t up to par for operating the type of "first class facility" required by state law.