The project of Hellinikon near Athens, Greece has already been the primary focus of the Greek government for a couple of years. Especially it came under the question within the past several months as the bidding process for the construction of the casino complex has started. The bids have been presented by two American companies. The Hard Rock and Mohegan Gaming. Both companies have been waiting for the license for the construction. As it was announced recently the Greek regulators finally decided to rule out Hard Rock from the contest.
Hard Rock Leaves The Contest
Hard Rock International’s bid to built a €1 billion casino resort near Athens, Greece, has been unanimously rejected by the Members of the Hellenic Gaming Commission has unanimously voted to reject.
The Florida-based gaming and hospitality company dropping from the race leaves just one contender for the casino license – the consortium formed by US casino and hospitality operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and Greek construction giant GEK Terna.
Mohegan and its local partner can now step into the next phase of a long-stalled process for the selection of the preferred developer and operator of a casino resort as part of a planned larger complex. The Hellinikon, as the larger scheme is dubbed, is set to be built at the site of the defunct Ellinikon International Airport near the Greek capital.
Sources said that the Greek gambling regulator voted to reject Hard Rock’s casino license bid last Friday. All nine members of the Gaming Commission voted in favor of the recommendations made by a specially appointed committee tasked with reviewing the two casino bids.
According to sources, Hard Rock’s bid was rejected for technical reasons as well as because the documentation submitted by the company lacked information about how its project would be financed.
Greek media reported Tuesday that the tender committee took about three months to review the two bids and make appropriate and well-documented decisions and recommendations.
Mohegan’s License Yet To Be Voted
The Hellenic Gaming Commission is yet to vote on the Mohegan and GEK Terna’s proposal. However, sources said that that project has been more favorably assessed by the tender committee and will likely be allowed to move to the next stage of the selection process, which involves the opening of the technical offers.
Once the Hellenic Gaming Commission formally informs the two bidders about its decision regarding their bids, each of them will have 10 days to appeal the regulator’s rulings. Sources said that even if Hard Rock decides to appeal the rejection of its offer, it is not likely to succeed.
Reports that the Florida gaming and hospitality would drop from the race first emerged in mid-December. Back then, Greek news outlets reported that Hard Rock failed to submit important information about its project.
Hard Rock threatened to sue Greek authorities in local and European courts, which further intensified the speculations that the company might have been removed from the casino license tender process.
It was in December again when Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen told Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiades during the 21st Annual Capital Link Invest in Greece Forum, which took place in New York, that the competition process was marred by a conflict of interest.
According to Mr. Allen, the international legal consultant advising Greek authorities on the casino selection process had also worked with Mohegan. The Hard Rock boss clarified that they did not necessarily think said the selection process was unfair but were genuinely concerned that there might be a clash of interests.
The selection of a casino operator is a mandatory step that must be completed before construction of the larger €8 billion Hellinikon complexes commences. The massive scheme has faced many delays over the past five years, mostly stemming from the casino tender process.
Any litigation resulting from the reported rejection of Hard Rock could further delay the eventual and long-anticipated start of the project.