Hard Rock Greece Casino Bid Rejected, Company Says Decision ‘Laughable’

Posted on: January 16, 2020, 03:14h. 

Last updated on: January 16, 2020, 03:23h.

One of the two remaining Greece casino bids for the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport has been rejected on grounds that the proposal did not adequately demonstrate the company’s ability to finance and construct the project.

Hard Rock Greece casino Athens
Hard Rock wants to gamble on a Greece casino on the grounds of Athens’ former international airport. (Image: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)

Though the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) has not publicly released its ruling, Reuters reports a source close to the commission revealed Hard Rock International will soon be informed that its submitted documents failed to meet financing criteria and demonstrate sufficient construction experience.

It is absolutely laughable to think that Hard Rock does not have the financial capacity and construction capability to complete the project at Hellenikon,” Hard Rock spokesperson Michael Karloutsos told The National Herald.

“Even our supposed disqualification was leaked to the press prior to Hard Rock receiving official notification,” Karloutsos added. “We don’t even know if it’s true. These leaks have done an incredible injustice to the Greek people.”

Hellenikon International was Athens’s main airport for 60 years before it closed in March of 2001. Athens International Airport opened that same year. Today, it is the 27th-busiest airport in Europe.

Greek to Greece?

If the HGC did, in fact, reject Hard Rock’s proposal – which called for a $1.1 billion resort featuring a minimum of 1,200 slot machines and 120 table games, plus a hotel, meeting space, and numerous restaurants – the company will have 10 days to appeal the decision upon formal receipt. Karloutsos says Hard Rock will do just that.

Florida’s Seminole Tribe owns Hard Rock, and has become one of the world’s largest operators of casinos. The privately held company owns and/or operates casino resorts in its home state, as well as in Nevada, New Jersey, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.

The remaining bidder for the airport opportunity is Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment. Owned by The Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut, Mohegan has partnered with Greek construction company GEK TERNA. Dubbed Inspire Athens, the vision suggests building a luxury hotel, entertainment space, convention space, shopping and dining locations, and casino.

Mohegan owns/operates casino resorts in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Louisiana, Washington, and Canada. But its namesake Mohegan Sun casino in its home state is struggling amid new competition in Massachusetts. Karloutsos believes the HGC has the two entities mixed up.

“If this report is true, I would suggest the committee and commission must be confused, because it is clear they are referring to our competition,” he stated.

Former US Base Turned Casino

Greece is moving forward with another casino. The former US military base at Gournes on Crete – which was called the Iraklion Air Station and used between 1954 through 1993 – is set to be the future home of a gaming resort.

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund is developing the resort complex. The property is slated to cover roughly 78 acres, and will feature, in addition to the casino, a hotel and entertainment attractions.