If the third time really is the charm, perhaps Greece will finally, in the coming months, be able to move forward on a new casino planned for Hellinikon. The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) has, once again, delayed the deadline for applications to be submitted by potential operators hoping to win the rights to run a casino resort in the Greek city. The new deadline is now June 28.
Previously, the deadline had already been pushed out to May 31, after the April 22 deadline was changed, in an attempt to attract more offers for the casino at the planned $9-billion integrated resort near Athens. The extension comes as issues have been raised over zoning regulations and some apparent dissent in the government ranks. There might also be some concern over a lack of interest on the part of operators.
Late last year, several operators dropped their interest in the project, leaving just three US-based contenders – Caesars Entertainment, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment and Hard Rock International – and Genting. However, Caesars may be ready to drop out, as well, becoming disenchanted with the continued delays and looking to dedicate more time to its potential sale.
When (and if) Greece can settle its differences and allow the bidding war to proceed, the victor will be given a 30-year license for the construction and operation of the casino. All bidders must have experience in casino operations that offer at least 100 table games and 500 slot machines. The winner will always be required to drop at least $1.1 billion into the project, which will be just a part of a sprawling development that offers luxury residences, hotels, a marina, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) spaces and other amenities.
The delays aren’t going to help Greece attract much-needed cash to rebuild its economy and competition is about to grow in the area. Melco Resorts & Entertainment is building a $600-million City of Dreams Mediterranean on the island of Cyprus. That resort’s construction is already underway and is expected to open in 2021. If it is up and running before the Hellinikon resort, it could establish itself as the regional hotspot, leaving Greece scrambling to pick up the crumbs.