Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE) has officially revealed its plans to develop an integrated resort at the Hellenikon International Airport site near Athens, Greece.
The company, which is the casino operating unit of Connecticut’s Mohegan tribe, currently handles seven gaming properties, including the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. The venue they are planning to build is set to become known as Inspire Athens. The Inspire brand is also what the company is using at the integrated resort they operate in Incheon, South Korea.
Of course, the company will first have to win the bidding and be awarded the rights to construct a casino at the site, in order for their Inspire Athens vision to come to fruition. The Hellenikon Airport site has not been used for air travel since the year 2001, which is why it is now being converted into an entertainment hub.
Mohegan Gaming CEO Mario Kontomerkos said, in a Reuters interview: “We are ready to begin as soon as we receive all the necessary approvals. We want to start as fast as possible.” It is said that Kontomerkos has visited Greece several times this year. These visits are said to be part of their efforts to push their Hellenikon plans.
Mohegan Gaming is vying for the 30-year Greek gaming license against Hard Rock International. These companies are the only two left in competition after Genting Malaysia and Caesars Entertainment bowed out of the race. The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) is set to announce the winning party in November.
Regardless of which company gets awarded the Greek license, transforming the Hellenikon area into a major tourist destination is expected to cost about $9 billion. Additionally, the HGC is definite about wanting the winning company to feature at least 1,200 slot machines and 120 table games on its casino floors. The $9 billion estimate includes property enhancements, such as the construction of dining areas, a marina, a sports center, and a convention center. And this is where the competitors differ in terms of numbers.
Hard Rock is pitching a $1.1 billion casino plan, which is expected to create 3,000 construction jobs as well as 1,600 permanent jobs. MGE, on the other hand, has not revealed a price tag for their planned Hellenikon project, but have said they expect to create 7,000 jobs via the project. The two companies do have a similar estimated timeline as to when they expect the project to be completed. Hard Rock expects to be able to get the venue up and running by 2021 or 2022, and MGE says a project this big typically takes them 24 to 36 months to complete.
Some operators who previously showed interest in the project grew frustrated with the time it is taking for the HGC to grant the necessary approvals. Mohegan, however, has been very patient in their approach. Kontomerkos says they have been working on their Hellenikon plans for over two years, and they’re already done with land planning and taken care of architectural issues associated with the project.