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Mohegan Chief Says Hellenikon Casino Will Take Three Years, After Licenses

The National Herald Archive

Still waiting for licenses to be approved before a shovel can be stuck in the ground, the Chief Operating Officer of the Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment said it will take three years to build a casino after that at the Hellenikon International Airport site where only some demolition has begun.

Speaking at the Prodexpo conference, Mario Kontomerkos said the investment will lead to 7,000 job spots, and partnerships with numerous local companies, with banks, construction companies and law firms, reported the business newspaper Naftemporiki of the long-delayed project, years in the making.

He said the Greek state will reap big benefits after he earlier said the casino would be a lure to bring back tourists in the years after the COVID-19 pandemic will hopefully end.

Mohegan won the license after its chief rival, the Florida-based Hard Rock that has far more casinos and experience around the world, was disqualified on a technicality although the company said to be still trying to figure some way to appeal.

Mohegan will also have major competition from other Greek gambling operations as well as a giant casino being built on Cyprus, a 550-million euro ($651.32) gambling colossus by Hong Kong billionaire Lawrence Ho, also stalled during the pandemic.

Kontomerkos said the economic benefits of the development will translate into tens of millions of euros of extra tax and social security revenues per year, along with the vital creation of some 7,000 jobs during the construction and operation of the Inspire Athens complex, said Kathimerini.

He said that the casino, a joint effort with Greece's GEK Terna, a real estate and construction company, will be cooperating with Greek companies too, including banks, suppliers and law firms.

There's no start date for construction for the 950-million-euro ($1.125 billion) investment as the company is waiting for licenses, which in the past have proved to be a bureaucratic boondoggle tying up even major projects, but with the New Democracy government promising to accelerate the process.

Once that process is completed, the contractor’s formal obligation is to complete the project within three years which means the casino likely won't open until the end of 2024.

Kontomerkos said that special emphasis will be placed on the “Greek footprint” of the complex on a site that was supposed to be the biggest urban park in Europe before Greece's economic crisis drove it toward development instead.

Hellenikon aims to become a popular leisure and entertainment destination for people from all around the world, with restaurants, conference halls, luxurious hotels and cultural events and spur more projects on the so-called Athens Riviera still developing.