Greece’s Hellinikon casino license down to Hard Rock or Mohegan


hard-rock-mohegan-greece-hellinikon-casinoTwo casino operators – both of them US tribal groups – will fight for the right to conduct gaming operations at Greece’s Hellinikon integrated resort project.

On Friday, Greece’s Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) announced that Hard Rock International (HRI) and a consortium including Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) had submitted bids for the sole casino license at the €8b Hellinikon integrated resort project to be built on the site of Athens’ old international airport.

Both companies had already confirmed their interest in securing the 30-year casino license well ahead of Friday’s deadline for submitting bids (the latest in a series of ignored deadlines stretching back to this spring). The government reportedly expects to announce the winner of the license tender by the end of November.

In July, the Connecticut-based MGE announced that it was teaming up with local construction firm GEK Terna to bid on the project. In August, HRI announced it would spend up to €1b developing Hellinikon’s gaming operations, but HRI has yet to indicate any local joint venture arrangements.

The terms of the tender stipulate that the financial aspects of each bid will count for 60% of the final decision, while the technical aspects will account for the remaining 40%. HGC chairman Evangelos Karagrigoriou called Friday “a milestone for the realization of the Hellinikon flagship investment.”

The Hellinikon project took on new urgency following the election of a new Greek government this summer. The new administration is under pressure to get the project going – and the tourist cash flowing – to meet its fiscal obligations under the terms of the bailout the country received following its debt default earlier this decade.

Once developed, the casino will feature a minimum of 120 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines across a minimum 12k-square-foot casino floor, while the resort will boast the usual assortment of flashy non-gaming amenities. The government has projected the resort will eventually draw an additional 1m tourists to Greece each year and boost the country’s gross domestic product by 2.4%.

Friday’s news confirms that Malaysian casino operator Genting won’t be participating in the Hellinikon derby. Caesars Entertainment was also among the companies that originally expressed interest in the Hellinikon project but the company apparently felt it needed to focus its energies on its upcoming merger with rival Eldorado Resorts.