Mohegan Sun adds water park, hotel to increase its western Mass. casino plan to $1 billion

PALMER, Mass. – Mohegan Sun has upped the ante in its drive to win a Massachusetts license to operate a resort casino.

The Connecticut casino has announced new features in its proposal for Palmer that will increase the project to nearly $1 billion.

The adventure-themed park and resort hotel will include an indoor and outdoor water park connected to a 250-room hotel separate from the property’s main casino hotel. Visitors can kayak and do zip lining in the outdoor portion of the adventure park.

Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, says the new features will draw visitors from across New England and the Northeast.

“We think we’re far ahead of everybody,” he told The Day of New London.

The Palmer project’s latest feature is “more than a water park,” he said. “It’s an indoor-outdoor adventure park, part of an overall destination experience.”

Mohegan Sun is competing with a Springfield plan by MGM Resorts International and a Hard Rock International proposal for West Springfield.

Mohegan Sun Massachusetts’ project features include 3,000 slot machines and 80 table games, a hotel with 300 rooms and suites, a 300,000 square foot retail development and the 70,000 square foot water park resort and hotel.

The Mohegan Sun’s Connecticut competitor, Foxwoods Resort Casino, also is competing for a Massachusetts license. Foxwoods, run by the Mashantucket Indian Tribe, has proposed a $1 billion casino for Milford, Mass.

The two Indian casinos are looking to extend their reach to shore up revenue that’s been declining in Connecticut due to the recession, weak recovery and stiff competition in the Northeast, particularly in New York City.