Inspire Athens Approved for new Hellinikon Casino in Greece

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The first integrated resort (IR) to be built in Greece is a step closer to becoming a reality. After a battle between Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) and Hard Rock International that ended earlier this year, Mohegan will be involved in the development of the project. Inspire Athens has officially been awarded its concessions for the IR, with MGE previously backing the company. However, this doesn’t mean that Hard Rock is completely out of the picture.

Greece Embraces Luxury Casino Resorts

Two years ago, Greece updated its gambling laws in an effort to attract deep-pocketed investors willing to grow the country’s casino market. It lowered the licensing fees by a couple million dollars, and the change seems to be working. Greece is on the verge of economic recovery that will be supported, in part, by a new IR in the city of Hellinikon. That resort has now been officially greenlighted by the Hellenic Gaming Commission, as of Friday, with Inspire Athens leading the charge. With the concession in place, the company is now required to pay $174.8 million to get everything started.

The new property is expected to cost several billion dollars by the time it’s completely ready. It will span over 1,530 acres. GEK Terna, a local construction company, owns Inspire Athens, but the project has been backed by MGE. Another company is expected to be brought in, as well. Regardless of how many partners or collaborators are brought in, GEK is required to maintain at least 35% of the share capital of Inspire Athens in-house for at least the next eight years.

MGE, Hard Rock Come Full Circle

The race to be a part of the first IR to be built in Greece had MGE and Hard Rock fighting to show why it should be chosen. MGE won the race in 2019, but that didn’t stop Hard Rock from contesting the results. The casino operator appealed and, this past May, was definitively removed from the equation when the appeal was rejected. However, just when it seemed that it was time to give up, Hard Rock is back in the picture.

This past March, MGE Chair James Gessner, Jr. asserted that the company was fully ready to support Inspire Athens. He said at the time, “Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) remains committed to Inspire Athens, the company’s flagship investment plan in Europe, and will continue to support the development project as set out in its strategic plan.”

Shortly after that, though, MGE softened its position. While it is still willing to provide some support to GEK, it isn’t likely to be involved on a permanent basis. According to local Greek media outlet Ekatherimini.com, MGE could be replaced by Hard Rock by the end of the year, with the latter taking over managerial responsibilities of running the casino.

The new IR is expected to bring employment to more than 7,000 people, providing a huge boost to the Greek economy. A large hotel, massive conference center, several restaurants and bars and a sports and cultural facility will round out the resort’s amenities once completed. Currently, the deadline for completion of construction isn’t set.

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