American Gaming Giants Battle for Athens Casino Rights



The proposed casino designs by Hard Rock International (left) and Mohegan

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

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

It will also feature a jaw-dropping infinity-type swimming pool halfway to the top of the towers of the hotel.

Connecticut’s Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment Company, in collaboration with Greek contractor GEK Terna, is to battle against Florida’s Hard Rock International, The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) stated as the bids were submitted at the October 4 deadline.

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

Mohegan sees the casino as part of a larger luxury resort. Besides the casino and hotel, the company will incorporate leisure facilities and top restaurants, as well as a concert venue and shopping center.

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

On the other hand, Hard Rock International, which has also bid about €1 billion ($1.11 billion) for the casino license, with its extensive know-how and the specific profile of its international investments, seems to be focusing more on entertainment venues, which are typically part of large casino complexes.

The winner of the bidding process, who is expected to be named by the end of November, 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 center and a sports center.

According to Lamda Development, the firm that has 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 resort will also include convention facilities, entertainment shows, and theme parks, as well as luxury retail and fine dining. Offices, sports facilities, museums, and shopping malls are also in the plans for the gargantuan area, which was once the international airport of Athens.

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

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

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

The resort and casino complex is expected 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 in social media. Furthermore, several architects also criticized the designs, with comments such as “This is not architecture” or “They have nothing to do with the Greek landscape and are reminiscent of Las Vegas.”