Eastern Connecticut casinos offer bargains in hopes of attracting tourists
By WILLIAM SOKOLIC
For The Norwich Bulletin
Posted Jun 28, 2009 @ 11:33 PM
In the past, summer marked a high time for tourism in Connecticut.
No need to cut room rates. No reason to offer dinner specials.Not so this summer.
Casino resorts such as Mohegan Sun are looking for ways to attract visitors in an economy that is still reeling.
“We realize what the economic times are like now and are aware guests and potential customers need value-created offers, rather than discount everything. There are myriad things we’ve done,” said Mitchell Etess, CEO and president of Mohegan Sun. “We call it the stimulus recovery.
” Other hotels and attractions have taken similar tacks. “The summer is usually a good time to hold pat. But this year we are seeing discounts as part of the picture,” said Randy Fiveash, tourism director for the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism.Mohegan Sun features seven packages this summer, from $99 up to $239 a person.
The $99 room includes a $25 food and beverage credit. Food specials include a $15 meal in Birches Bar & Grill, Etess said.
Even the new restaurants opening this summer speak to value. Bobby Flay Burger Palace and Pepe’s Pizza are low-priced for the economy.
“We’re promoting free concerts in the Wolf Den,” he said, with headliners such as Edgar Winter, Bo Bice and Three Dog Night.
“We’re also conscious about showroom ticket prices. They can get very expensive.” Many shows offer tickets from $30 to $55.
$5 table gamesThe low limit $5 table game pit introduced at Mohegan Sun in February grew from six tables to 18, Etess said. In addition to 13 blackjack tables, the casino includes Spanish 21, roulette and big wheel, all low-limit every day. “We never had that before. It’s being driven by the economy,” he said.
The casino also is experimenting with $5 tables in other pits during mid-week. And hundreds of slots accept pennies, and some even half pennies. While the games usually attract gamblers who bet far more than a single penny per spin, the one-cent option is available.
The tourism commission is promoting staycations by offering discounts from dozens of local establishments to entice in-state visits.
The Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, for example, offers free admission on Sundays and Roseland Cottage Museum in Woodstock has $1 off admission Wednesdays through Fridays.“I think all of this will help,” Fiveash said.
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Mohegan Tribal Members are invited to a pregrand opening of Pepe's Pizza and Bobby Flay, today Monday June 29, 2009, in the Earth Casino of the Mohegan Sun. Tribal members must show their Tribal Id's to be able to attend. You may bring a guest. There will be free burgers and pizza. The time is 5:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. Tell your friends. Have fun. What do you think?