Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming Among Top Contenders for Greece Resort

Three leading contenders have emerged to build an integrated resort at the site of the former Hellenikon International Airport near the capital of Athens. The three global gaming brands vying for the opportunity to win the single casino license are Seminole-owned Hard Rock International, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, and Genting Malaysia. 

The original deadline for tender offers was April 22, but that deadline, and many others, have come and gone. Newly elected (July 2019) Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has moved it once again from September 30 to October 4. The Hellenic Gaming Commission is expected to award a 30-year operating license to the winning bidder. 

Jim Allen, Chairman and CEO of Hard Rock International, recently shared his company’s vision for the project during a press conference at Hard Rock Cafe in Athens. 

“We have always believed Athens to be one of the world’s great gateway cities, and Hard Rock International envisions creating a must-see destination that will help draw from the over 120 million annual guests across 74 countries, driving year-round tourism and being an economic driver for Greece,” Allen said. 

Allen also said Hard Rock International would create 3,000 construction jobs and 1,600 permanent positions once the project is completed, which would take anywhere from 20 to 26 months, if Hard Rock won the bid.

Mohegan has also made its foray into foreign lands, recently assuming management control of casinos in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. In addition to looking to expand into Japan, Mohegan Gaming is building Inspire, an integrated entertainment resort at Incheon International Airport near Seoul, South Korea. The first phase of the project is scheduled to open in 2021. Casino gaming is strictly available to foreign nationals. Mohegan Gaming has committed a total of US$5 billion for resort development over 20 years.

In July, Mohegan announced it was partnering with Greek construction firm GEK Terna on a joint bid. Mohegan Gaming CEO Mario Kontomerkos reportedly said that GEK Terna’s “reliability, effectiveness and deep knowledge of the Greek market will help us fulfill our vision for the Hellinikon area.” GEK Terna Group CEO George Peristeris echoed Kontomerkos’ statements hailing the opportunity to “cooperate with a leading international firm in the entertainment and gaming industry.”

The future complex in Greece, about four miles outside of Athens, is being lauded as Europe’s first integrated casino resort, slated to feature gaming-integrated hotels, convention facilities, entertainment shows, theme parks, luxury retail and fine dining.