Mohegan sowing Momentum in New York City bid

Apr. 25—MOHEGAN — Expect Mohegan to leave little or nothing to chance in its bid to land a New York City casino license.

It's already signing up loyalty program partners in the Big Apple.

The Mohegan Tribe-owned casino operator ― Mohegan Sun is the company's flagship property ― has announced it's introducing the Mohegan Momentum Partnership Program for New York City as part of its collaboration with the Soloviev Group, which has proposed a multi-billion-dollar entertainment complex on the east side of midtown Manhattan near the United Nations headquarters.

Mohegan would develop and operate the casino portion of the complex, which Soloviev has dubbed Freedom Plaza. Development plans also call for a museum, a performance venue, a Ferris wheel, a hotel with more than 1,000 rooms, two residential towers and substantial green space.

Mohegan is offering businesses located near the proposed development site the opportunity to participate in the Momentum Partnership Program in hopes of incentivizing future casino patrons to support New York City-area restaurants, retail stores and other businesses.

A number of New York State Restaurant Association members have signed up.

"With various establishments bidding to attain a gaming facility license in New York City, it is imperative for New Yorkers to consider factors beyond just local and state tax revenue gain, but also the effort that organizations are willing and able to make to better the surrounding communities and businesses," Ray Pineault, Mohegan's president and chief executive officer said in a statement.

"You visit, spend money, earn rewards," Pineault said in a phone interview, explaining how loyalty programs work. "As we've done with our other properties, we look to partner with local merchants in New York City who agree to accept points earned at Mohegan properties as a form of payment. We reimburse them with cash."

In some cases, participating businesses grant Mohegan Momentum members special discounts and offers.

In Connecticut, for example, members can qualify for discounted AAA memberships, access to the Boston Bruins pro shop at TD Garden in Boston and to tickets at Yankee Stadium and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., as well as to Mystic Seaport and to Supercharged, the Montville karting track.

Momentum Rewards points ― or dollars ― earned at any Mohegan property can be redeemed at any Mohegan property or participating business, Pineault said.

The Soloviev-Mohegan bid for a New York City casino license is one of at least 10 that have surfaced so far although the New York Gaming Facility Location Board, part of the New York Gaming Commission, has yet to accept applications or even indicate when the deadline for applications will be. The New York City license is one of three downstate licenses the gaming regulators are expected to award.

It's widely anticipated that two of the licenses will go to existing racetrack facilities: Resorts World New York City in the borough of Queens and Empire City Casino in Yonkers, Westchester County, both of which offer slot machines but no live-dealer table games.

The board still is preparing responses to an initial round of questions submitted months ago by interested parties, according to a commission spokesman. Upon publication of the responses, potential applicants will have 30 days to submit further questions.