The Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE,) which won a battle to obtain a license to operate a casino at the 8-billion euro development of the abandoned Hellenikon international airport on Athens’ coast said it won’t be the operator because of financial problems.
“MGE has conducted a comprehensive review of its operations and future commitments against the new backdrop created by the COVID-19 global pandemic and concluded that we would not continue to pursue the concession rights for the Athens Project,” a company statement said, reported The Day of London, Connecticut.
“We are also focused on the large undertaking at Inspire Korea, which will consume the next few years. While we know this is a disappointment to many, it is the right decision for our company and its stakeholders.”
The pandemic had hit the company hard but it pursued the license in the face of competition from another US company, Hard Rock, which had protested the process but was rebuffed.
In a filing posted online last week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, MGE reported it had transferred all of its equity ownership in the Athens project to its Greek partner, GEK Terna, previously the minority investor in the project.
“The Company and GEK Terna coordinated the equity transfer with the requisite government officials in Greece,” the filing says, noting the Hellenic Gaming Commission approved the transfer on Oct. 22. The transaction is subject to further regulatory review.
GEK Terna, a conglomerate based in Greece, was expected to pursue the project with another partner after it was first said that MGE would be the operator but there was no indication whether it would be Hard Rock or another company.
MGE,had joined GEK Terna in submitting a development plan that called for a luxury hotel, premier entertainment venues, a convention center, a casino, shopping, dining and other amenities.
The distinctive two-tower design was inspired by the Caryatids, the sculpted female figures that support the Parthenon, the ancient temple atop the Acropolis of Athens, under the rubric Inspire Athens.
In March, James Gessner Jr., Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe and the MGE Management Board, said the company was committed to the project despite media reports that it was having financial trouble.
Ray Pineault, MGE’s President and Chief Executive Officer, told the paper in October that the company was focusing on righting itself financially with the pandemic still lingering and turning toward the project in South Korea.