Mohegan Sun Las Vegas Casino Accepts $60,000 Fine for COVID-19 Safety Violations on Opening Night

  • The new Vegas casino has accepted a $60,000 fine as part of a settlement over safety breaches
  • The complaint cited images of unmasked celebrities not social distancing on opening night
  • Mohegan CEO Pineault took “full responsibility” for the violations as leader of the company
  • The NGCB has also voted unanimously to recommend the chief executive for a gaming license 
Face mask and gavel
The Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is already facing disciplinary action for failing to ensure its patrons followed COVID-19 regulations on its opening night in March. [Image:]

Mohegan Sun gets its punishment

One of Las Vegas’s newest casinos is already in trouble with the gaming regulator. The Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas has agreed to pay a $60,000 fine for violating COVID-19 health and safety procedures on the night of its launch.

photos of celebrities and other patrons of the casino breaching health and safety regulations

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) filed a 17-page complaint against Mohegan Sun in April. It cited photos of celebrities and other patrons of the casino breaching health and safety regulations on March 25.

At the time, casinos had to adhere to a 35% capacity restriction, in addition to social distancing rules for gaming floors, and a mandatory mask-wearing policy for employees and customers. The board ended all restrictions for Vegas casinos on June 1.

Mohegan Gaming CEO Ray Pineault addressed the complaint during a brief hearing in front of the Nevada gaming regulator on Wednesday. He told the NGCB that the company will pay the $60,000 fine as part of a settlement.

Further details of the transgressions

Within the five-count NGCB complaint, Deputy Attorney General John Michela said Mohegan violated Regulation 5 for its “failure to exercise discretion and sound judgment to prevent incidents which might reflect on the repute of the state of Nevada and act as a detriment to the development of the industry.”

reality TV stars playing games without face masks surrounded by crowds

The evidence included photos originally posted to the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas official Twitter page. The images from the opening night showed reality TV stars playing games without face masks surrounded by crowds of non-socially distanced patrons.

Although Virgin Hotels has since taken the photos down, other Twitter accounts widely disseminated some of the images at the time:

As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the complaint noted that the maskless celebrities, which included actor and radio host Mario Lopez, were not eating or drinking. An emergency directive ordered by Governor Steve Sisolak at the time made this the only valid reason for casino patrons to remove their masks while inside a property.

Another photo showed a group of customers walking through the casino without adhering to social distancing rules. The caption read: “The crowd continues to get larger and flows about the casino floor.”

Pineault accepts the blame

In the first in-person NGCB hearing in nearly 15 months, Mohegan CEO Pineault took “full responsibility” for the company’s violations. He said on Wednesday: “Nothing is more important to me and our organization than the safety of our team, guests, and the community, and I recognize there is no excuse for this behavior.”

Although he acknowledged the wrongdoings, Pineault asserted that Mohegan took “immediate remedial action” once it learned of the incidents. He urged the NGCB to accept the settlement agreement so that both parties could “put the matter to rest.”

Despite issues raised during the meeting, NGCB members voted unanimously to recommend Pineault for a Nevada gaming license. The executive only became the permanent CEO of the company on May 27. Gaming commissioners will rule on both the settlement and Pineault’s licensing on June 24.

Pineault has spent more than 20 years working for Mohegan Gaming, serving as chief operating officer and also regional president. He became interim chief executive after Mario Kontomerkos stepped down from the company on March 31, just six days after the opening night transgressions.

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