Greece Extends Bidding Period for Athens Casino, US Gaming Operators Losing Interest

Posted on: May 28, 2019, 09:02h. 

Last updated on: May 28, 2019, 09:02h.

Greece announced this week that the bidding period for its lone Athens casino license is being extended by a month, with the new deadline now June 28.

Greece casino resort Caesars Mohegan Sun
A former airport in Greece could soon become the site of a casino resort. (Image: Recentering Periphery)

The delay is the latest setback for the capital city’s redevelopment following the country’s post-bailout by the European Union. The casino license attracted interest from numerous gaming companies including US-based operators Caesars Entertainment, Mohegan Sun, and Hard Rock International, but those companies are losing interest as delays persist.

Greece’s Hellenic Gaming Commission announced Monday that the deadline for proposals was being extended from May 31 to June 28. The regulatory authority didn’t provide reason for the pushback.

Best Bid Available

Greece is home to several casinos, the largest being the Regency Casino Mont Parnes in Acharnes. The gaming floor houses 700 slot machines and 50 table games, and is roughly 25 miles from Athens.

Athens, of course, is the primary tourism destination in Greece. One of the world’s oldest cities, Athens’ Acropolis attracts more than five million visitors annually. Permitting a casino resort to be built nearby is why the liberalization has enticed several large casino operators’ interest.

The Hellenic Gaming Commission says its review will be “conducted on the basis of the most economically advantageous offer based on the best price-quality ratio.”

The minimum investment for the casino property is one billion euros ($1.12 billion). The complex must include a casino with at least 500 slot machines and 100 table games, hotel, and conference facilities. The operating license will be good for 30 years.

The integrated resort is part of Greece’s post-bailout scheme to make the country more financially stable.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook ranks Greece as the No. 49 richest economy, with GDP totaling $235.8 billion last year. Tourism accounts for nearly 20 percent of the country’s economic activity.

The European Union, IMF, and European Central Bank bailed out the country in 2016 to the tune of more than $260 billion. The global financial crisis of 2007-08 struck Greece especially hard, and the country nearly defaulted on its debt. Threatening the viability of the eurozone itself, the European Union, IMF, and Central Bank loaned the massive funds in order for the country to continue making its payments.

Chinese Consortium

With the three US casino operators reportedly losing interest in the Greece resort, a Chinese group has emerged as the frontrunner to win the license.

China’s Fosun – an international investment conglomerate – has partnered with Abu Dhabi real estate firm Eagle Hills to build a casino on the former Hellinikon airport grounds. Along with the resort, Fosun and Eagle Hills plan to build luxury homes, hotels, and yachting marina.

Hellinikon was replaced by the Athens International Airport, which opened in 2001. The airport suffered as a result of the country’s debt crisis, as passenger traffic fell from more than 16.5 million travelers in 2007 to 12.5 million passengers in 2013.