Mohegan Sets 2026 as Target Year for Athens Casino Opening


US casino operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment expects its planned INSPIRE Athens luxury integrated resort on the site of the former Athens international airport to be ready and operational by 2026.

This is the first time the company provides a timeframe for the scheme since it was announced as the winning bidder for the right to develop and operate the resort.

Mohegan formed in the summer of 2019 a consortium with Greek development company GEK Terna to jointly bid for the 30-year tender for the construction and operation of the planned hotel and casino complex. Last October, Mohegan’s project was chosen over a rival bid from fellow US gaming and hospitality powerhouse Hard Rock International.

The property will be built at the site of the former Ellinikon International Airport on the Athens seafront.

Mohegan is set to invest at least €1 billion into what would operate as INSPIRE Athens. The property will feature a casino with slot machines and table games, a luxury hotel, premier entertainment facilities, fine dining, retail space, a convention center, and a comprehensive mix of other amenities.

After winning the tender, Mohegan will now have to sign the contract for its project and clear it with auditors and the Greek parliament.

Resort Likely to Open Doors in 2025 or 2026

Mohegan’s interim CEO, Ray Pineault, told the Delphi Economic Forum last week that currently they “anticipate that upon conclusion of the contractual negotiation process, permitting and design will take approximately 12 to 18 months and that they expect INSPIRE Athens to be fully built and operational by 2025 or 2026.

The company’s planned resort will be part of a larger scheme for the redevelopment of Athens’ former international airport. This larger project is dubbed the Hellinikon and Greek developer Lamda Development was tasked with it.

The whole scheme is estimated to cost €8 billion and will see the transformation of the defunct airport into a multi-purpose complex that will feature hotels, residences, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) facilities, shopping malls, and more.

Lamda was awarded the government tender for the Ellinikon site back in 2014 but delays of different nature have prevented the company from commencing work on its planned complex. It is yet to be handed control over the portion of land that it set to raise the Hellinikon and its many amenities on.

Greece’s current government, which came into power in the summer of 2019, promised to speed up the scheme and it looks that Lamda is finally close to breaking ground on what has been promoted as the country’s largest urban redevelopment plan. The company said this week that it hopes it will be able to kick off construction in the fall, if it secures the property from the government next month.

Source: U.S. gaming group expects Athens casino resort to be ready by 2026, Reuters, May 17, 2021