Hard Rock and Mohegan in battle for Athens casino rights

By Noah Taylor Updated
Mohegan set to operate Greek casino 

American gaming giants Hard Rock International and Mohegan will battle for the rights to build a casino on the location of the former Athens airport at Ellinikon, which forms part of an enormous resort on the Attica coast.

Hard Rock International has bid approximately €1 billion ($1.11 billion USD) for the casino license, with its group’s extensive know-how and specific profile of its international investments, seeming to focus more on entertainment venues, which typically form a key part of large casino complexes.

Mohegan has proposed a futuristic-looking building which is to be named “Inspire Athens,” that will have at least 120 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines, as well as a luxury hotel, a conference centre and sports centre.

The Mohegan’s proposal will also feature a stunning infinity-type swimming pool halfway to the top of the towers of the hotel, according to the Greek Reporter.

The Mohegan bid for the casino is also reportedly approximately €1 billion ($1.1 billion) and is set to occupy approximately 15,000 square metres of the total 6,200,000 square-metres Ellinikon Project.

Mohegan consider the casino as part of a larger luxury resort, where besides the casino and hotel, the company will incorporate leisure facilities and top restaurants, as well as a concert venue and shopping centre.

The complex will cater to all ages where it will provide entertainment options for the whole family for both Greek and foreign visitors and residents of the greater Athens area.

Bids closed by the Gaming Commission on October 4

The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) stated the bids were submitted at the October 4 deadline.

According to Lamda Development, the firm who have undertaken the development of the entire Ellinikon area, the total cost of the gigantic development project is expected to be close to €8 billion ($9 billion).

The project will also feature cultural venues, health centres, educational and research facilities, a marina and other amenities that will see the former airport site become its own city on the Athens Riviera.

The resort will also include convention facilities, entertainment shows, theme parks, as well as luxury retail and fine dining. Offices, sports facilities, museums, and shopping malls are also in the plans for the gigantic area, which was once the international airport of Athens.

The aim is to create the largest entertainment and casino complex in Eastern Europe and the Southeastern Mediterranean, which will be one of the largest in the world. The development is set to also be one of Europe’s largest coastal resorts.

The winner of the bidding process is expected to be named by the end of November. They will build a casino of at least 1.2 hectares, with at least 120 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines, as well as a luxury hotel, a conference centre and a sports centre.

The Greek government is determined for the project to move ahead as quickly as possible, with Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis emphasising that “Ellinikon will become a symbol of the country and its development.”

The resort and casino complex is set to bring in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, and be a major boost to the country’s economy, Georgiadis noted.

Meanwhile, the blueprints for the two proposed casino buildings have caused a storm of negative reactions on social media. Several architects have also criticised the designs, with some complaining that it doesn’t represent the Greek landscape and are reminiscent of Las Vegas.

The development of the new resort will be a significant addition to Greece and with the expected tourism that will be generated, the winning bidder of the casino rights will be able to showcase its brand to a worldwide audience.

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