Greece’s gaming commission announced this week that it had named US gaming giant Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) the preferred bidder for the development and management of the country’s first integrated resort and casino, a 1-billion-euro investment expected to increase tourism in Attica, boost state coffers by at least 10 percent and create thousands of jobs.
The consortium will construct and manage the casino for a 30-year period with the option to extend the license for an additional 20 years.
Designed by Las Vegas-based architectural firm Steelman Partners, it will be the first project to go up at on the premises of Athens former airport along the Athenian Riviera and will kick start works on the long delayed Hellinikon mega complex – one of the country’s largest investments overseen by Greek real estate developer Lamda Development.
“We are honored to have been chosen by the Hellenic Gaming Commission and believe that as the first Integrated Resort and Casino experience in Greece, INSPIRE Athens will further solidify the city of Athens as one of Europe’s most enticing and iconic destinations,” said Mario Kontomerkos, MGE president and CEO.
“We recognize the importance of this transformative effort for Greece and are looking forward to leading the charge for one of the most ambitious development projects ever undertaken in the country,” he added.
MGE offered to pay 150 million euros for the 30-year right to operate the casino a day after the Hellenic Gaming Commission (EEEP) opened the financial bidding. The sum is five times the minimum of 30 million euros set by the EEEP.
According to reports, the sum will be paid in full in the first year after Greek authorities finalize their decision: in part during the signing of the contract and the remainder after the property has been handed over.
In the meantime, the EEEP has also approved the consortium’s technical plan which includes the construction of a 3,500-bed, 5-star hotel, a 24,000m2 conference and exhibition center, and a 10,000-seat sports/concert facility as well as gaming and entertainment venues, shopping, dining, a casino with 120 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines, and a comprehensive mix of premium amenities.
“Much of the resort was designed to capitalize on the Greek affinity for the outdoors where virtually all the resort’s restaurants, bars, lounges, and nightclubs offer both indoor and outdoor experiences. The collection of food, beverage, and retail outlets includes internationally recognized brands as well as domestic favorites that accentuate traditional Greek dining, drinking, and shopping.
INSPIRE Athens intends to be southern Europe’s center for A-list music concerts, theatrical performances, major sporting events, and other arts and cultural activities on a weekly basis,” said MGE in a statement after the announcement.
MGE is a master developer and operator of integrated entertainment resorts worldwide, including in the United States, Northern Asia and Canada.
The deal will be finalized after MGE submits supporting documents. Greek authorities will then draw up a contract, have it signed and submit it for further approval by the State Audit Council. From there it will go through Greek parliament for ratification. The procedure is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month.
“The MGE – GEK TERNA consortium was officially announced as the temporary contractor for the license to operate the casino at Hellinikon. Everything is moving ahead as planned and with an excellent price for the Greek state, five times higher than the minimum. We are moving forward,” said Greek Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis via his twitter account.
According to sources close to the project, permit and contract procedures will likely not be finalized before 2021, pushing back construction to 2022.