ATHENS, May 14 (Reuters) – U.S. casino group Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment expects that a luxury casino resort on the site of the former Athens airport will be ready by 2026, a top company executive said on Friday, giving a timeframe for the first time on development plans.
The consortium of Mohegan and Greek construction group GEK Terna last year won a Greek tender for the construction and 30-year operation of the casino resort on the site of the former Hellenikon airport on the Athens seafront.
The next steps in the process include signing the contract and clearing it with Greek auditors and parliament.
“Right now, we anticipate that upon conclusion of the contractual negotiation process, permitting and design will take approximately 12 to 18 months”, Ray Pineault, Mohegan’s interim CEO told the Delphi Economic Forum in Athens.
He said that the resort was expected to open in 2025 or 2026.
The resort is part of an 8 billion euro ($9.68 billion)redevelopment plan for the former airport site by Greek developer Lamda that will eventually house shopping malls, hotels and residences.
Lamda won a government tender for the redevelopment of the site in 2014 but after years of delays due to red tape, political resistance and local opposition, has yet to be handed control.
Greece’s conservative government that took power in 2019 has vowed to speed up the project.
The Greek economy relies heavily on tourism, which generates a fifth of the country’s economic output and employs one in five workers.
The casino resort will include a hotel, entertainment venues, convention centres and shopping and dining amenities.
“We anticipate the IRC (resort) will grow international tourism in the Attica region by at least 10%,” Pineault said.
“It will be a facility that’s unforeseen anywhere else in all of Europe.”
Lamda Development said this week it was hopeful that it can start construction work in Hellenikon, Greece’s biggest urban redevelopment plan, in the autumn if it secures the property from the state next month.
($1 = 0.8260 euros) (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou. Editing by Jane Merriman)