US-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and Greek construction company GEK TERNA have been been granted the initial right to develop a casino resort within the former Hellinikon International Airport in Athens.

The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) awarded the casino-operating licence to Mohegan consortium ahead of the bid from another tribal gaming organisation, Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole tribe in Florida.

The proposed resort which will be known as INSPIRE Athens will feature a luxury hotel, several entertainment venues, a convention centre, shops, restaurants and a casino. It is estimated that the gaming space will require 120 table games and 1,200 table slot machines. reported that Hard Rock International had submitted a $1.1 billion project proposal, however, Mohegan and GEK TERNA did not unveil their investment cost for INSPIRE Athens. Hard Rock International has 10 days to object to the decision or to bring the matter before Council of State in Greece.

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“We understood that INSPIRE Athens was meant to symbolise more than an integrated resort,” said Mohegan Gaming CEO Mario Kontomerkos. “It is our hope that INSPIRE Athens would be the catalyst that sparks the entire development of the Hellenikon area into the coveted Athenian Riviera, forever redefining the modern identity of Greece.”

The casino complex will be part of a larger development for the former airport that is in the hands of Lamda Development, which in December submitted a €650 million share capital increase plan.

Aegean Airlines and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are partners in the overall project, which is considered to be the biggest urban development in Europe.

Lamda Development’s CEO Odysseas Athanasiou has said that the Hellinikon Project could add up to two per cent to Greece’s Gross Domestic Project.

The INSPIRE Athens design was created by international architectural firm Steelman Partners and is inspired by the buildings and sculptures of Ancient Athens.