Biggest urban development project in Europe
Greece’s first integrated casino resort (ICR) looks set to have a Mohegan signature after the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) declared the US-based resort developer’s €150m ($176m) bid a winner.
looks set to have a Mohegan signature
Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE) submitted its bid in conjunction with Athens partner GEK Terna, which operates globally in multiple industry sectors. Once the State Audit Council approves the contract between the state and the MGE-GEK Terna partnership, the INSPIRE Athens project will await ratification by the Greek parliament.
Located at the former Hellinikon International Airport site, the INSPIRE Athens ICR will include a casino, a luxury hotel, entertainment venues, a convention center, and retail outlets. Once building begins, the property will mark the biggest urban development project in Europe.
MGE president and CEO Mario Kontomerkos said the company was “honored” to be selected by the HGC. He added that, as the first IRC in Greece, the INSPIRE Athens Hellinikon project would strengthen the capital’s position as “one of Europe’s most enticing and iconic destinations.”
A long road to Hellinikon
The announcement of MGE’s winning bid comes after a long series of delays in recent years. In January 2020, the HGC awarded MGE a sole casino license for the INSPIRE Athens project, while rejecting Hard Rock International (HRI)’s bid on a technicality. HRI appealed the decision to the Greek Council of State on several occasions in 2020, losing all its appeals.
The final rejection of HRI’s appeal by Greece’s highest court in September enabled the HGC to proceed to open MGE’s financial bid on October 8. Five days later, it declared the bid, and the IRC project, successful. Now, finally, according to Athens daily newspaper Ekathimerini, the acceptance of the winning bid means the process will likely be completed by end of October.
MGE’s successful bid and the finalization of the contract for the IRC “is a necessary condition for the completion of the financial transaction between the state and Lamda Development for the entire project at [Hellinikon],” the Athens daily reported.The Hellinikon IRC is part of an €8bn ($9.36bn) redevelopment plan by Greek company Lamda Development. In preparation, Lamda upped its share capital by €650m ($721m) in December 2019. It was the biggest increase of its kind by a non-finance company in Greece over the past ten years.
MGE’s role in the INSPIRE Athens project at Hellinikon will directly impact the Greek economy through the creation of more than 7,000 local jobs during and after construction.
creation of more than 7,000 local jobs
It’s also estimated that the project will contribute millions of dollars annually to government coffers and the people of Greece in the form of taxes, public services, and infrastructure upgrades. What’s more, international tourism in the Attica region is expected to expand by minimum 10%.
MGE’s Kontomerkos said the company recognized how vital this transformative effort will be for Greece. He added that MGE was “looking forward to leading the charge for one of the most ambitious development projects ever undertaken in the country.”