Mohegan Gaming, partner to pursue Greek casino license

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Mohegan — Add Greece to the list of international destinations where Mohegan Sun’s corporate parent may one day do business.

A company spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment will participate with a partner in an upcoming casino bid process being conducted by the Greek government’s Hellenic Gaming Commission. MGE shared the information with media last week in Greece, Jennifer Ballester, MGE’s director of corporate communication, wrote in an email.

In a July 4 news release, GEK Terna Group, a Greek conglomerate, announced it had reached an agreement with MGE to pursue a long-term casino license in connection with planned development at the site of the former Hellinikon airport in Athens. Plans call for a hotel, conference and convention space, and sports and cultural areas.

“The two groups aim to utilize their own reliability, experience and know how — each in its area of expertise, in order to jointly contribute to the implementation of a vast investment that will offer multiple benefits not only to the broader Attica area but to the overall Greek economy as well,” the GEK Terna release says.

Mario Kontomerkos, MGE’s chief executive officer, was not readily available to comment.

“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,” Kontomerkos was quoted as saying in the release. “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.”

Hellinikon served as Greece’s main airport up until 2001 and has been abandoned since then.

Reportedly, the partners plan to invest $9 billion in the project. Others are expected to vie for the casino license, although delays in the bid process have caused some potential bidders to drop out, according to some reports. Bid submissions are due July 31.

MGE also recently disclosed details of its bid for a gaming license in Japan, which is considering allowing up to three integrated resorts. The company announced it is ready to invest $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion in the development of a resort casino in Tomakomai, a city on the island of Hokkaido.

In South Korea, MGE is proceeding with the first phase of a gaming resort at the Incheon International Airport near Seoul, a $1.6 billion project that’s now scheduled to open in 2022.

In its first active operation outside the United States, MGE assumed responsibility last month for the day-to-day management of Casino Niagara and the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. As part of the deal, it’s also helping to develop the Niagara Falls Entertainment Centre, a 5,000-seat venue it will manage.

In addition to Mohegan Sun, its flagship casino, MGE’s domestic businesses include ownership of Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and management of Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J.; ilani Casino Resort in La Center, Wash.; and Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, La. The Mohegan Tribe, which owns MGE, is collaborating with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe on a plan to build a casino in East Windsor.

MGE reported last week that the chairman of its management board, Kevin Brown, was resigning, effective Sunday. The announcement, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, provided no reason for Brown's decision to resign, indicating that it "did not involve any disagreement with MGE on any matter relating to MGE’s operations, policies or practices."

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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