The Mohegan are expanding on previously announced plans to expand their Connecticut casino. The tribe announced earlier this year it will spend $1.065 billion, or $265 million more than planned, to increase the size and scope of its Sunburst luxury hotel/casino project. Project Sunburst is slated to open in the fall of 2001 and will feature food and beverage concessions and a new cocktail bar with video poker. The new plan includes a 3,000-space parking garage, another 15,000-square-feet of gaming space on top of the additional 100,000-square-feet already planned; and conversion of the bingo hall to a smoke-free, slot machine casino. With the additional gaming space, the casino will increase its slot machines from 3,027 t 6,227 when Sunburst opens. That will be about eight fewer machines than competitor Foxwoods Resort Casino owned by the Mashantucket Pequot plans to have at that time. Mohegan Sun will also make design and decorating changes, increase the size of its new spa to 18,000-square-feet, and spend $20 million to turn the bingo room into a casino. The increased costs include $102 million for design and scope changes, $58 million more for labor, $20 million for the smokeless casino, $50 million for the parking garage, and $35 million for utilities.
The tribe will be spending $10 million for a day-care center on its reservation for children of the Mohegan Sun casino and tribal employees. Peter Schultz, vice chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said the money has been allocated as part of the Sunburst expansion project to build and staff the center, which will be located on the reservation. The center will initially accommodate 240 children. The casino employs many young couples and single mothers, and the need for day care is particularly acute for them, Schultz said. "We want to offer affordable day care with a trained staff," Schultz said. The casino currently employs about 6,000 people and expects to add 3,500 more within a year. Tribal government employs an additional 350 people, many of them tribal members. Schultz said the day-care center, expected to open some 18 to 24 months from now, initially will operate during hours that would accommodate first- and second-shift employees.