Caesars, Genting Losing Interest in Greece Casino with Hard Rock, Mohegan Gaming in the Drivers Seat

Posted on: August 6, 2019, 09:40h. 

Last updated on: August 8, 2019, 02:30h.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Genting Malaysia are losing interest in a casino project at the Hellinikon International Airport in Athens as bureaucratic postponements continue delaying the effort to bring a gaming property to the site of the airport that closed in 2001.

The old Hellenikon International Airport in Athens could be a casino site. (Image: Reuters)

With patience running thin for Caesars and Genting, Greece’s Development and Investment Ministry is expected to meet with Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, the casino unit of Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe to push the project forward.

Without the tender for the casino the investment at Hellenikon cannot proceed,” said Adonis Georgiadis, head of the Development and Investment Ministry, in an interview with The National Herlad.

Mohegan Gaming is bidding to be part of a $9 billion Hellinikon investment to develop a casino at the airport, saying it plans to work with Greek industrial conglomerate GEK Terna on the project.

Georgiadis said Sept. 30 is the deadline for the bidding process and he does not expect that date will be moved again. The Hellenic Gaming Commission has previously extended deadlines for the Hellenikon casino four times.

Reasons For Dropping Out

For some gaming operators, scuttling plans in Greece could be as simple as no longer wanting to deal with bureaucratic red tape and political volatility in the country. In snap elections held July 7, Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the centrist-right New Democracy party replaced Alexis Tsipras of the Syriza party to become the country’s newest prime minister.

Since 2009, the country has had eight prime ministers, including some that occupied that role as “caretakers” for just a few months.

Caesars’ waning enthusiasm for the Hellinikon Airport casino could be tied to Eldorado Resorts’ $17.3 billion takeover offer for the Caesars Palace operator. Several weeks before that deal was announced, Caesars abandoned an effort to open an integrated resort in Australia.

Eldorado is primarily focused on the US gaming market and CEO Tom Reeg said after the deal was announced that international opportunities would have to be “stupendous” for the combined company to consider expansion outside the US.

A Vital Economic Engine

Greece is home to seven casinos, the largest of which is the Regency Casino Mont Parnes in Acharnes, but that venue is 25 miles from Athens, the country’s largest city. A gaming property at the Hellinikon International Airport site would be much closer to the Greek capital.

Plans to bring a larger integrated resort to Greece come as the country is experiencing an economic renaissance. Greek stocks were among the world’s best performers in the first half of this year and 10-year bonds issued by the government there yield just over 2 percent, indicating global fixed income investors believe the country is financially sturdy.

Relevant to casino operators is that the Greek consumer base looks healthy and unemployment is declining.

“While economic confidence rose to its highest level in nearly 10 years, private consumption continued to drive strong performance during Q2 within the consumer services and energy sectors, and the telecoms and casinos & gaming sub-industries,” said Global X, an issuer of a Greek equities exchange traded fund (ETF), in a recent research note.