Greece picks US gaming firm Mohegan for Athens casino

A bird's-eye view of the Sailing Center at Aghios Kosmas Olympic venue at Hellinikon Olympic Centre in 2003; Situated eight kilometres (five miles) south of Athens, the former airport of Hellinikon was turned into a sports complex for the 2004 Olympics, b

Greece's gaming regulator has selected US operator Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment for a new casino on the Athens seafront, part of a long-delayed park project that could see construction begin this year.

"The offer of Inspire Athens has been accepted," the state gaming commission said in a statement late Monday, referring to a consortium comprising MGE, Greek construction firm GEK TERNA and US architects Steelman Partners.

Rival consortium SHRE/SHRI, which includes Hard Rock Corporate, has the right to appeal the decision.

Prominent Greek development fund Lamda, operated by the wealthy shipowning Latsis family, has undertaken to build a metropolitan park at the former Athens airport of Hellinikon with an area of two million square metres (200 hectares).

The eight-billion-euro (nine-billion-dollar) project involving residences, hotels, shopping centres and cultural venues, has been delayed for years, but the government is hopeful for a breakthrough this year.

"The goal remains to have bulldozers at Hellinikon in early 2020," Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said last month.

Lamda says the colossal project is expected to create 10,000 jobs during construction and 75,000 jobs thereafter.

In October, MGE said the casino could increase international tourism in the greater Athens area by at least 10 percent.

Situated eight kilometres (five miles) south of Athens, the former airport of Hellinikon was turned into a sports complex for the 2004 Olympics, but most of the venues built for the Games have rarely been used since.