Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE), the casino operating unit of Connecticut’s Mohegan tribe, are the two operators vying to win the rights to open an integrated resort on land occupied by the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport near Athens.
Greek officials intended to make an announcement this month on which of those two companies is the winning bidder. But the reveal is being delayed because one of the firms – authorities aren’t saying which one – omitted important data in some of its financial documents submitted to regulators.
Reports claim the delay in the process is due to omissions in the documentation supplied by one of the two suitors, with even a detail emerging, namely, that a letter of guarantee included in the offer dossier is short by four days the prescribed length,” according to Naftemporiki.
Local media reports suggest that the error of omission could delay the announcement on the winning bidder from anywhere from three to six months.
Due to volatility in the Greek government in the years following the country’s debt crisis, the effort to revamp the Hellenikon International Airport site into a tourist attraction has been hamstrung by a series of delays.
Postponements and bureaucratic red tape prompted Caesars Entertainment and Genting Malaysia to throw in the towel on their Greece plans. Last month, Hard Rock and MGE emerged as the final two contenders to open a gaming venue at the airport, which was last used in 2001.
The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) previously extended the bidding procedure several times, but newly elected Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the centrist-right New Democracy party has prioritized speeding up various approvals and steps in the casino process as an avenue for expediting Greece’s economic recovery.
In recent months, Greek regulators have held to various deadlines associated with advancing the process. For example, in August, rules pertaining to a final tender process were ratified, and just days later, central planning and zoning regulations were revealed.
An Important Step
It’s crucial that Greek regulators are able to decide on a bidder for the integrated resort, because that will pave the way for Lamda Development to commence work on the $9 billion Hellenikon redevelopment project.
Lamda is overseeing the broader refurbishment of the area, while either Hard Rock or MGE will focus on the gaming venue and related amenities.
Hard Rock has previously said it would spend about $1.1 billion to build the gaming property, creating 3,000 construction jobs and 1,600 permanent roles in the process. The company said it could complete the project in 20 to 26 months after breaking ground.
The winning bidder will receive near-monopoly protection, with a 30-year gaming license with Greek regulators requiring that the integrated resort feature convention venues and at least 1,200 slot machines and 120 table games.