New Greek gov’t promises swift action on Hellinikon casino project


greece-government-fast-track-hellinikon-casinoGreece’s plans for its first integrated resort casino outside Athens got both good and bad news this month.

The good news came last week after the Council of State (the country’s highest administrative court) rejected a series of objections filed against the Hellinikon project, an €8b integrated resort set to be built on the site of Athens’ former international airport.

The objections were filed by local residents who claimed the project’s six ‘landmark’ buildings, each of which will top out around 200 meters tall, will spoil their ocean views. The court also ruled against objections filed Greece’s Archaeological Service, which had claimed the right to veto certain aspects of the project, but the court ruled that the former airport held no particularly aesthetic or historic interest.

The bad news came via confirmation that the tender for the project’s lone casino license will now extend through August, if not into September. The deadline by which interested casino operators could submit their Hellinikon bids was originally April 22, but this date has repeatedly pushed back four times now.

The most recent deadline was supposed to have been July 31, but the country held a snap national election on July 7 that resulted in the centre-right New Democracy party winning an outright majority. On Monday, incoming Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said the new government would do what it took to ensure the Hellinikon project got underway this year.

Georgiadis said his department was cooperating with his counterparts in the Ministry of State to remove the remaining obstacles, including the long-delayed release of the three ministerial decisions required for the project to go forward.

The previous government tried to blame these delays on the Hellinikon project’s developer Lamda, an allegation that the company’s CEO strongly rejected, noting that Lamda had submitted all its required paperwork back in February.

Georgiadis said the government’s goal was to issue the ministerial decisions in August “to be followed by a tender for the casino.” Georgiadis said the new government remained “optimistic” that it would be able to deliver on its promises, despite the complexity of the issues facing it.

So far, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) is the only casino operator to have formally declared its Hellinikon intentions, announcing a joint venture bid with Greek construction giant GEK Terna for the 30-year monopoly casino license.