The Mohegan Indian Tribe in Connecticut has set its sights on Greece. Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment recently announced that it would open its door to a new integrated casino resort valued at over 1 billion USD, in Athens Greece. Currently, Mohegan Gaming plans to have this done by 2026. In a battle to gain the sole gaming rights in Athens, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment went head-to-head with Hard Rock International and won the bid.
The latest announcement forms part of a larger redevelopment of the former Hellinikon International Airport. The overall cost of the redevelopment has been reported to approximately €8 billion or 9.68 billion USD. The casino resort from Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment is just one part of the entire project. Mohegan Gaming’s bid is known as INSPIRE Athens and will be a high-end establishment once completed. The property will include a Luxury hotel with 1,700 rooms, an entertainment section, casino, retail shopping outlets, a convention centre, several restaurants and an extensive mix of world-class amenities.
As to how long the development will take, Mohegan Gaming’s interim CEO Ray Pineault stated at the Delphi Economic Forum that construction is estimated to complete within 3 years. Along with the construction, plans will also be made to gain the required approvals and licenses for gaming and hospitality in Athens. Pineault added that the establishment, INSPIRE Athens, should be able to welcome its first guests sometime in 2026. Pineault stepped into the role of CEO after the former CEO Mario Kontomerkos suddenly resigned in March this year.
The new development also forms part of Greece’s economic rehabilitation. It has only been four years since the country experienced its government debt crisis. An issue that was resolved by the country receiving three bailouts from European Central Bank, Eurogroup and the International Monetary Fund. Additionally, Greece was also successful in negotiating a 50% reduction of the country’s debts with bank lenders from private institutions. In 2015, the debts went as high as €323 billion. The site for the new integrated casino resort is located in the Hellenic Republic, the region’s economy has recovered and has seen modest growth.
The region has reported gross domestic product growth of 1.3% in 2017, followed by 1.6% in 2018 and going up even further in 2019 by 1.9%. The following year, 2020 however, and the state of the world’s economy brought the gross domestic product figures down by 8.2%. Greece is depending heavily on the reimagining of the former airport and the Greek company LAMDA Development, which first proposed its plan for the former airport in 2013, is overseeing the entire project, which includes INSPIRE Athens. The plot is roughly three times larger than Monaco and is measured at 1,500 acres of land. The redevelopment of the land is projected to create over 75,000 permanent jobs. Another aspect of the redevelopment’s projections is that once completed, the Hellinikon Project should generate approximately €14 billion in tax revenue each year, increase the country’s gross domestic product by 2.4% and attract over a million tourists annually.
A large percentage of Greece’s economy is dependent on tourism. According to reports from Reuters, the country employs one tourist out of every five workers and generates a 5th of its overall economic output from tourism. This makes the attraction of over a million tourists a big positive for the country. Pineault also said that the Hellinikon Project will transform the region. Once completed the newly developed area will increase the tourism rate by 10% each year.
Furthermore, Pineault explained that INSPIRE Athens will be contributing to job creation as well. When the project is completed, there will be 7,000 new jobs created at the casino resort and will heavily contribute to the country by generating millions in tax revenue as well. The Hellinikon International airport was the primary airport in Athens from 1938 to 2001. A section of the former airport’s grounds was also used during the Summer Olympics in 2004 hosted by Greece. It has taken a long time to get the project off the ground as there were several delays over the years. However, demolition of the disused airport has begun and is set to be one of the largest tourist resorts in Europe.