It’s official — Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment has won the right to proceed with the building of the first-ever casino resort in Athens, Greece. After a long and tiresome bidding process that was somewhat controversial, Mohegan will finally be able to start working on the long-awaited project in the place of the former airport called Hellenikon International Airport.
The Connecticut-based tribal operator was chosen to be the only operator to work on this project by the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC). Mohegan was already one step ahead, as the company created a consortium with a company called GEK TERNA, which is a successful building company from Greece.
The project, which now has a working name INSPIRE Athens, will consist of several venues, including a luxury hotel, a convention center, several retail shopping places, various restaurants, as well as several entertainment venues.
Needless to say, the resort will be focused on its main venue, and that’s a casino — the first of its kind in Europe.
According to Mohegan Gaming CEO, Mario Kontomerkos, INSPIRE Athens would stand for more than just an integrated resort. He added that his company wanted INSPIRE to be the first step towards developing the entire area around Hellinikon into a sort of Athenian Riviera.
The importance of one such place would be crucial for creating the modern Greek identity.
At this moment, neither MGE nor GEK TERNA is willing to disclose the costs of building one such project.
Problems on the Way — How Will HRI React?
Although there were only two bidders for the project, there was a lot of tension between the two. Both Mohegan and Hard Rock were interested in taking up the Hellenikon project, but HRI’s bid was denied.
At first, it was announced that its bid had certain irregularities, at which point HRI stated that it would sue the HGC for taking things too long.
In the end, HRI’s bid was rejected due to insufficient experience in construction, as well as the lack of ability to meet the criteria for financing. Naturally, the company found this “laughable,” being one of the most popular casino operators in the world.
The Seminole Tribe-owned HRI now has an opportunity to appeal the licensing decision. At this point, it seems that the company pretty much wants to do that.
If that happens, the issue will be presented to an arbitration authority. After that, it will take approximately a month before it is resolved.
No matter which one of the two bidders gets the license, in the end, they will still have to meet the minimum requirements proposed for the casino. The casino will have to be equipped with a minimum of 120 table games and 1,200 slot machines.
The company pushing for this project is called Lamda Development, and it has already invested more than $8 billion, purchasing the old airport and pushing for the construction of the integrated resort instead.
The end goal is to build a complex of properties in the area that would positively affect the Greek economy, which hasn’t been doing very well lately.
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