President and CEO of Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, Bobby Soper, stepped down from his position on February 14th in lieu of an investigation of the company’s financial irregularities.
Both Soper and Mohegan suggest that Soper will be moving on to pursue other opportunities. In an email confirming his resignation, Soper said that he was “happy to take on a new challenge.” In a press release provided by Mohegan authority Soper resigned “to pursue other opportunities effective immediately.”
Mitchell Etess will step in as an interim replacement for Soper while The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board determines whether “possible operational control deficiencies” took place over the last year. Initial reports suggest that Soper’s resignation is due to his team’s failure to oversee operations, which led to these deficiencies.
The authority requested the Securities and Exchange Commission to delay filing its latest quarterly report in order to give interim CEO Etess enough time to review. The SEC filing stated that the Plains Township casino would be “subject to disciplinary action including a fine and undertakings to remediate the issues identified.”
The state gaming’s Office of Enforcement control focused on taking disciplinary action for failing to properly track free slot play. The agency charged 3 former employees, including former VP of Player Development Robert Pellegrini, with participating in a scam that cost the casino over $400,000. Pellegrini pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiring with another man and cocktail waitress to win $478,350 by using free slot money. Pellegrini could face up to 20 years in prison and a $500,00 fine for his involvement.
Soper became the chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority in March of 2015 after serving as the CEO of the company’s Pennsylvania and Connecticut resorts. During his tenure, Soper experienced relative financial success with net revenues of $1.02 billion over the past year. More recently, however, the gaming authority reported a year-over-year decline. The financial filings for the first fiscal quarter of 2017 shows Mohegan Sun experienced a net loss of $51.6 million, which they attribute to higher corporate expenses.
Another recent development revealed that Soper owned a five percent interest in ReferLocal, a marketing company that Mohegan Sun severed ties with last month after working with the advertising firm for six years. Upon the separation, ReferLocal’s legal counsel sent a letter stating that the company “had suffered damages in connection with the termination” of the business relationship. The letter also suggested at ReferLocal could seek recovery damages from the authority and Soper.