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Hellinikon Casino Resort One Step Closer to Becoming a Reality

Hellinikon Casino
A model of the integrated resort casino, led by the consortium of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and its Greek partner GEK Terna. The property will be part of the larger Hellinikon Project. Credit: Inspire Athens

The Hellinikon Casino Resort project has entered its home stretch phase, with the Greek government giving its final approval on Friday. The bid winner of the largest-ever infrastructure investment in Greece has received its concessions.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) and Hard Rock International were the original bidders for the Hellinikon project, with MGE winning it. However, this doesn’t mean that Hard Rock is completely out of the picture.

GEK Terna, a local construction company, owns Inspire Athens, but the Hellinikon project has been backed by MGE. Another company is expected to be brought in, with reports saying that it might be Hard Rock. The casino building giant didn’t lose its interest in the Athens Casino project, despite having lost the original bid.

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.

Hellinikon project to cost billions

The new property is expected to cost several billion dollars by the time it is finished. The Hellinikon resort project was officially green-lighted 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 the Hellinikon project started. The new IR is expected to bring employment to more than 7,000 people, providing a huge boost to the Greek economy.

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 the decision. In May it was definitively removed from the equation when the appeal was rejected. But just when it seemed that it was time to give up, Hard Rock is back in the Hellinikon project picture.

Greece updates gambling laws

Two years ago, the Greek government 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.

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

Gessner said MGE would continue to support the Hellinikon project as set out in its strategic plan. Shortly after that, however, 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 reports, MGE could be replaced by Hard Rock by the end of the year. The casino giant could be taking over managerial responsibilities of running the Hellinikon casino project.

A large hotel, a massive conference center, several restaurants, bars and a sports and cultural facility will round out the resort’s amenities once completed. The deadline for completion of the Hellinikon project construction has not yet been announced.

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