Mohegan Gaming Targeting 2026 for Opening Athens Integrated Casino Resort

Posted on: May 17, 2021, 09:25h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2021, 01:49h.

Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE) revealed this week that it expects to open its more than $1 billion integrated casino resort in Athens, Greece, sometime in 2026. 

Mohegan Gaming Greece casino Athens resort
Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment unveils its integrated casino resort plans for Athens during a presentation in 2019. The casino operator says its Greece development should be ready for guests in 2026. (Image: Greece Travel Pages)

MGE, the gaming unit of the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut, beat out Hard Rock International last year to win the sole gaming rights in Athens. The casino resort is a small part of the Hellinikon Project, an €8 billion ($9.68 billion USD) redevelopment of the former Hellinikon International Airport. 

Mohegan’s bid — known as INSPIRE Athens — will come with a casino, a luxury hotel featuring 1,700 rooms, an entertainment space, a convention center, retail shopping, numerous restaurants, and a “comprehensive mix of premium amenities.”

Speaking at the 6th Delphi Economic Forum, interim MGE CEO Ray Pineault said construction is forecast to take 36 months to complete. Along with the approval and permitting process beforehand, Pineault says INSPIRE Athens is likely to welcome its first guests in 2026. 

Pineault assumed the interim CEO role following Mario Kontomerkos’ surprising resignation in March. 

Greece All-In 

Greece is only four years removed from its government debt crisis, which resulted in three bailouts from the International Monetary Fund, Eurogroup, and European Central Bank. Greece also successfully negotiated a 50 percent reduction of its debts with private bank lenders, which climbed to as high as €323 billion in 2015. 

The Hellenic Republic’s economy has emerged to modest growth, posting gross domestic product (GDP) increases of 1.3 percent in 2017, 1.6 percent in 2018, and 1.9 percent in 2019. COVID-19, however, caused an 8.2 percent retraction in GDP last year. 

Greece is betting heavily on the former Hellinikon airport reimagining. Greek firm LAMDA Development is supervising the overall project, which consists of approximately 2.5 square miles of land. The $9.68 billion investment is estimated to create more than 75,000 permanent jobs.

Once finished, the Hellinikon Project is forecast to increase Greece’s GDP by 2.4 percent, generate €14 billion in annual tax revenues, and attract more than one million tourists each year. 

Growing Tourism 

Greece is a largely tourism-dependent nation. Reuters reports that the Greek economy generates a fifth of its economic output, and employs one in five workers, from tourism.

“Hellinikon is a project that will change the region. It will attract many visitors on an annual basis and will bring a 10 percent increase in tourism,” Pineault added. 

As for INSPIRE, Pineault says the casino resort will create 7,000 new jobs, and bring “many millions of tax revenue” to the country. 

Hellinikon International was the main airport of Athens from 1938 until its closure in 2001. A portion of the grounds were used during Greece’s hosting of the 2004 Summer Olympics.