Mohegan Gaming Moving Forward with Greece Integrated Casino Resort

Posted on: May 5, 2020, 11:12h. 

Last updated on: May 8, 2020, 12:28h.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE), the casino company owned by the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut, says the coronavirus pandemic will not delay its $1.6 billion project in Athens, Greece.

Mohegan Gaming Greece casino
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment’s casino resort vision for Greece is grand and expensive. (Image: MGE)

In January, MGE won the bidding war against fellow US tribal casino giant Hard Rock International for Greece’s lone commercial integrated resort (IR) license. The permit allows Mohegan to build a casino complex on the grounds of the former Hellenikon International Airport.

The airport was Athens’ main airport for six decades until it closed in 2001 and was replaced by the new Athens International. The former airport is being developed into a major tourism and hospitality destination with a casino, hotels, marina, shopping, office space, and luxury homes.

Mohegan’s casino resort – dubbed INSPIRE Athens – is being built with partner GEK TERNA, a Greek construction firm. INSPIRE Athens is set to feature luxury hotel, entertainment venues, convention center, retail shopping, numerous restaurants, and a casino.

Coronavirus Setback

Greece largely avoided the COVID-19 pandemic, the southeastern European country reporting just 2,626 coronavirus cases and 144 deaths – far lower than nearby Italy, where the country has 210,717 cases and 28,884 deaths.

For Mohegan Gaming, the virus has closed all seven of its casinos, including its namesake property Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. MGE also owns and/or operates Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania, Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, Ilani in Washington, Paragon Casino Resort in Louisiana, and Casino Niagara and Fallsview Casino Resort in Canada.

The tribal entity is bleeding tens of millions of dollars each month. Despite the setback, MGE has no plans to fold on Athens.

Mohegan Gaming Entertainment is fully committed to turning Greece into a top destination for entertainment and business conferences in Europe,” CEO Mario Kontomerkos told Reuters.

The statement comes after Hard Rock said recently that it isn’t giving up on its IR bid in Greece. The company, owned by the Seminole Tribe in Florida, is asking an appeals court in Greece to reverse the decision by the Hellenic Gaming Commission to award the license to MGE.

Hard Rock said the Greek gaming regulator mishandled its bid by telling the casino operator it didn’t have sufficient construction experience – something Hard Rock Greece spokesperson Michael Karloutsos called “absolutely laughable.”

Mohegan Overleveraged?

With no casino revenue coming in, Mohegan Gaming missed a $19.7 million interest payment last month. Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the gaming company’s credit grade to “negative,” putting it well into speculative territory.

Along with the $8.7 billion in Greece, MGE remains committed to INSPIRE Incheon in South Korea. The resort located adjacent to Incheon International Airport is expected to cost $5 billion.

INSPIRE Incheon will feature a luxury hotel with 1,250 guestrooms, rooftop swimming pool, traditional Korean day spa, retail shopping, 40 restaurants, golf course, entertainment complex and 15,000-seat arena, and casino offering 1,500 slot machines and 250 table games.

Combined, the two INSPIRE projects are currently projected to cost approximately $6.6 billion. They are Mohegan’s first developments outside North America.