Every once in a while, we are lucky enough to have one of our friends share a guest post. Joe Freda has written articles for us in the past, and I’m always grateful for his friendship and support for NETimeGambling. He presents a trip report that should catch some “Sunny” attention this time. “Done With Mohegan Sun: It’s Not Me – It’s You.”
Introduction – Done With Mohegan Sun: It’s Not Me – It’s You
Joe Freda is an avid casino gambler and writer for NEtime Gambling. Although his casino visits have been less frequent since the pandemic, he is still making the rounds of properties throughout New England. Recently, Freda returned to Mohegan Sun in April 2022 after not being there since September 2020 during the heart of COVID protocols. While some casino properties have gradually improved to earlier forms over the past two years, it was evident from this visit that Mohegan Sun still has some work ahead.
Returning to Uncasville
In September 2020, my visit to Mohegan Sun had limited offerings like most casino properties. Fewer restaurants open, limited seating at gaming tables, and scarcer hotel rooms were common themes no matter where you visited.
On that occasion, I met up with NETimeGambling’s Robin Aubin, and we racked up tier points as part of a “Triple Status Sunday.” It turned out to be an epic day for “yours truly,” as I went from zero to over 4000 points in a single day with 18 hours of black chip action and high-limit video poker. This clinched the Mohegan Sun’s coveted “Soar” status card, which has the most added benefits for visiting players. In the past, I have also gone to great lengths in keeping the “Soar” status, such as in my “War For The Soar” piece written back in 2019.
As we all know, the pandemic took its toll on many of our social lives, and I held off from returning to Mohegan Sun for a considerable time. The “Soar” card’s status was discretionarily extended for an extra year but expired this past March – just three weeks before my booked visit in April. My return to Uncasville marked a special occasion since it was my mother’s 80th birthday. Despite crashing abruptly to the lowly “Core” level, I obtained a comped Sky Suite for the weekend. In contacting my prior host, they could also reserve Frankie Valli tickets.
Where No One Knows Your Name
Although my strides in the past with heavy amounts of gambling hours and high betting action helped to get stellar treatment in Uncasville, it was obvious things were not the same as this trip went onward.
We wanted to eat at Ballo for my mother’s birthday, but my host could only find seating at Michael Jordan’s Sports Grill, even with several days left before the trip. Is it that booked for a Friday at 4 p.m.? Most 80-year-old females would instead not celebrate a milestone birthday in a sports bar unless it was Deloris Jordan herself.
Following our meal, I went to pick up the Frankie Valli tickets, and it was clear the seats were in a faraway corner. Imagine having a betting average of $300-400 a hand for 12 hours on a trip with an “ADT” of $1500+/day but having to sit in the last five rows of the large Mohegan Sun Arena. Mohegan Sun employees were sitting closer than us at the show. I could have bought better seats on my own. Like getting moved from Ballo to the MJ Sports Grill, this was another example of settling for less. These tickets continued the disappointment as there were a variety of other destinations we could have chosen for this birthday.
Throughout all of this, the hotel staff still had not called or messaged to say our room was ready. There was no answer in trying to call them for a considerable time. Eventually, we walked to the desk ourselves, hoping the room was ready, and thankfully it was. Although this trip had a primarily negative vibe, I will say that some ‘core’ areas of the property, such as the valet, bell desk, housekeeping, and room service did a fine job. Unfortunately, the hosts, the hotel desk, and the call center did little to enhance our experience with underwhelming help.
As we checked in to get our keys, I was told my host had left something for us at the concierge. Unfortunately, all that turned out to be was an envelope with our shiny new “Core” status cards. While it saved us a trip to the Players Club, this felt unnecessary and just added to the other old Mohegan Sun cards I have in my wallet. How about surprising us with a dining credit to celebrate a birthday? A bottle of wine for the room, perhaps? “No” – just your new cards to help emphasize a more worthless status.
While on the subject of players’ cards, one of the first I had at Mohegan Sun in the late 1990s was a “Sachem’s Club” gold card.
It was the “Holy of Holies” in those days, and I still have it as a reminder of better years in Uncasville. Gone are the times of “Right this way, Mr. F…Here are your front-row KISS tickets…your ringside seats for the fights tonight… Here is a comped Sunday brunch for you and your seven friends…”. These days, we are down to nothing and lucky to find seats in Krispy Kreme if we can.
Can It Get Any Worse? Check-out
After ordering one last breakfast using room service, I called the hotel desk to ask for an extra hour of check-out time. I was denied that with “No, it’s a busy cleaning day…” so we rushed through finishing our food and packing up. I tried calling the VIP button to get a host for help, but no one answered. Not surprising, given how lackluster the care and service were the whole way. Despite having the bottom “Core” status, I would think extended amounts of black chip play through a weekend would warrant an extra hour in the room. The old slogan “It’s The Mohegan Sun Way” feels long gone. It’s more like “Pay Your Way…And Leave…”
The ‘Sun’ Sets For Good
While I hope to re-celebrate my mother’s birthday in a better fashion again sometime, it is clear Mohegan Sun has dropped some notches since its glory days. I am sure lower-tier players still enjoy getting the most out of their choice credits every month, but those traveling a distance for a higher-end experience are simply not getting what was there before COVID. Of course, we can go anywhere for a comped suite, but the care and service always made Mohegan Sun a destination. It is not the case anymore, regardless of status.
After a disappointing trip, I will rekindle my options at Foxwoods and Encore Boston. Hosts at both properties continue staying in touch even after I have not visited for a long time. Foxwoods has offered 800 reward dollars and $1600 free bets. Encore Boston recently invited me to their luxury suite at Fenway Park. Mohegan Sun’s only offer after my trip was a Cuisinart pizza tray. Maybe I can use it to burn my old player’s cards? How low can the ‘Sun’ keep setting here? So long, Uncasville!
Thank You, Joe. When will the casino industry understand that treating customers with respect and care is foremost in hospitality? It’s time for casinos to present a “How can I help you today” attitude instead of “What have you done for me lately?”
A recession looms on the horizon. Covid showed the gaming industry that they are not disaster-proof. Casino hospitality continues to be the #1 area that needs improvement across the country.