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Mohegan Sun Casino marks 25 years

The famous 'Blue River' Chihuly glass sculpture at Mohegan Sun.
Brian Scott-Smith
WSHU Public Radio
The famous 'Blue River' Chihuly glass sculpture at Mohegan Sun.

Tuesday marks the 25th anniversary when the Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort first opened its doors in Connecticut. The casino is known for its gambling, but also for hosting entertainment over the years, from Taylor Swift to Bruce Springsteen.

“I mean I can remember memories of when we had an outdoor pavilion where actually Lennox Lewis fought one of his championship fights at,” said Jeff Hamilton, the president and general manager of Mohegan Sun. He has been working at the casino for 17 years. “That was like a big event for Uncasville at the time and I can remember all the people pouring in from the Winter Lot right to the restaurant I was working at, and you know just the excitement of having entertainment here in the early days, even before we had an arena.”

Hamilton said the casino's success has come from being innovative and letting customers and future employees see what it takes to run a casino with their award-winning TV show – Back of House.

“So, it’s been a great recruitment tool, people are excited. And I think also from the brand. I’ll tell you as I walk around the property people always say ‘oh, you’re Jeff Hamilton from Back of House.’ I see you on my TV in the hotel, or I saw you on Back of House TV and it actually allows me to have a conversation with customers,” he said.

The casino’s birthday is also the day that Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods and the Connecticut Lottery can offer the first online gambling in the state to a limited number of residents. Starting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, each of the three sportsbooks that have partnered with the state lottery and tribes can host 750 customers.

Legal sports betting in the state launched last month with some issues around placing wagers on Mohegan Sun’s WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun.

The casino’s arena, where the Sun play, has hosted more than 13.5 million guests since it opened in 2001, and hosted more than 3,000 paid events in its history to date.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.