reek contractor GEK Terna said on Thursday it has teamed up with U.S. casino operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment to bid to build a casino inside a planned 8-billion-euro tourist resort on the Athens coastline.
The two groups will collaborate in order to jointly bid to the tender for the long term casino licensing at Hellinikon and the overall development areas included in the terms of the tender under progress (hotel, conference and convention space, sports and cultural areas), GEK Terna said in a statement.
Backed by Chinese and Gulf funds, Lamda Development plans to turn the disused Hellinikon airport in Greece’s capital into a complex of luxury residences, hotels, a yachting marina and a casino.
After pushing back the process three times, Greece’s gaming regulator has set a July 31 deadline for the submission of bids for the casino. The bidding process requires a minimum offer of 30 million euros to operate the casino for 30 years.
“We are very happy to announce our partnership with GEK TERNA Group on the Hellinikon project, ”said Mario Kontomercos, Chief Executive Officer for Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment. “We strongly believe that GEK Terna’s reliability, effectiveness and deep knowledge of the Greek market will help us fulfill our vision for the Hellinikon area, for Athens and Greece as a whole. Our objective is to implement at Hellinikon a sizable investment, through our vast experience in global developments, that will be a game changer for the local and national tourism industry. The project will create thousands of workplaces while it will offer multiple benefits to the Greek economy.”
George Peristeris, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for GEK Terna Group, stated: “Our strategic partnership with Mohegan Gaming Entertainment Group constitutes an important development for our Group, as it gives us the opportunity to cooperate with a leading international firm in the entertainment and gaming industry, in order to materialize the emblematic, for the people of Greece, Hellinikon project. This partnership is fully incorporated into GEK Terna’s planning for further development in the field of concessions, in which we systematically invest.”
The Terna-Mohegan partnership is the first group to announce its intention to bid, in a boost for the project beset by delays and a long-running row with critics who fear it will damage the environment and the country’s cultural heritage. In the latest twist, Lamda said Greek authorities were insisting the culture ministry approve all projects at Hellenikon, which the firm said put the development at risk, Reuters reported.
The leftist government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras - which Lamda says has been withholding required permits - in turn accused the developer of trying to change terms of the project by including more buildings to maximise profit.