Hard Rock and Mohegan Gaming in front to build IR in Athens
As the race to build the casino in Greece’s ex international airport near Athens, two US tribal casino companies are said to be the only contenders left with billion-dollar proposals for the IR with casino, executive housing and marinas. Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment are the two remaining competitors in the effort to bring a casino to the Greek capital city.
Mohegan Gaming is the casino arm of Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe, said to be associated with Greek industrial conglomerate GEK Terna to be part of the Hellenikon development project.
Last month, Hard Rock revealed a US$1.1 billion bid for a gaming venue on the premises of the deserted airport, which was last used in 2001. The total cost of the renovation is forecast to be close to US$9 billion. In addition to the integrated resort, developers are pitching high-end residences, a marina, convention centre, dining options and other attractions.
Connecticut’s Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MG&E) Chief Executive Mario Kontomerkos told reporters that his company “is still in the game for the license,”
Caesars Entertainment and Genting Malaysia have dropped out owing to reported bureaucratic delays, although some analysts also mention interest in the Japan and Brazil possible openings as reason to abandon the Greek project.
Last month, Greek lawmakers signed off on two of the four steps seen as crucial to advancing the Hellenikon integrated resort plan – detailing terms and conditions of the offers expected to be set forth by interested bidders and reiterating the Sept. 30 deadline for the government to render a decision to announce the winner,
However, when politicians are involved, anything can happen and a new date has been set for Oct. 4. Prime Minister Kyrikos Mitsotakis has said the project is high on his domestic priority list, and we’ll just have to wait to see how the politics pan out on the final decision to see who ultimately gets the Greek nod.
Mohegan Gaming’s Kontomerkos said that his company has been pleased with the New Democracy government’s efforts to boost efficiencies to move the project along.
The former government, the leftist Syriza party, was blamed for delaying the Hellenikon Airport redevelopment by four and a half years.
The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) has mandated that the integrated resort include convention facilities and have least 500 slot machines and a minimum of 100 table games. But the winning operator will be compelled to oblige because that company will receive a 30-year gaming license, granting it near-monopoly status in the Athens area.
The closest casino to Athens is the Regency Casino Mont Parnes in Acharnes. But that venue is 25 miles away from the Greek capital, indicating the winning bidder for the Hellenikon plan will enjoy a significant geographic advantage in the country’s most visited city. Hard Rock has previously said it believes it can have the Athens casino operational by 2021 or 2022, depending upon when ground is broken.