Hard Rock Confident It Will Avoid Greek Tragedy with Favorable Hellenikon Casino Ruling

Posted on: April 26, 2020, 12:53h. 

Last updated on: April 26, 2020, 05:04h.

Hard Rock International, the jilted party in a competition with Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) to open an integrated resort at the site of the old Hellenikon International Airport, believes a Greek appeals court will see things its way and award it the gaming license.

Hard Rock Greek Gaming
Hard Rock will plead its case for a Greek gaming license before a high appeals court on April 27. (Image: Reuters)

MGE, the gaming unit of Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe, won the Hellenikon license in January after a lengthy competition that ultimately came down to it and Hard Rock. Calling the decision “laughable,” Hard Rock pledged to appeal and tie the situation up in the courts if need be.

Since then, the Greek Preliminary Appeals Authority and the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) both rebuffed Hard Rock appeals. On Monday, April 27, the country’s highest administrative court will hear the case.

Hard Rock International will ultimately win the competition for Hellenikon…Hard Rock is the only company to have developed a project like this before and they will do it again,” spokesman Michael Karloutsos said in an interview with the National Herald.

The gaming arm of Florida’s Seminole Tribe contends HGC has multiple reasons for turning back its tender offer to develop part of the abandoned airport site into a gaming venue. But that operator hasn’t been informed as to what those issues are.

Rejecting Rejection

Hard Rock’s pitch for the Hellenikon project called for a $1.1 billion spend to develop an integrated resort with hotel rooms, meeting and convention space, dozens of dining venues, and a gaming area with at least 1,200 slot machines and 120 table games. The dollar amount of MGE’s bid hasn’t been revealed.

It’s rumored that one reason for Hard Rock’s rejection in Greece is that authorities there claimed the company doesn’t have experience in developing large-scale projects of this nature, an assertion the operator scoffs at, noting it developed gaming properties in Florida, New Jersey, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Canada, and the Dominican Republic.

“Hard Rock International is the only contender with a recognizable global brand and a world-wide network with staying power that can attract much needed additional tourists to Greece,” Karloutsos told the National Herald.

Earlier this year, speculation swirled that Hard Rock’s bid was tossed because of a lack of financial documentation in its filing, another claim debated by the company – one the operator says was leaked to the media before it heard about the allegation.

Economic Jolt Needed

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the Greek economy was one of the most resurgent in the Eurozone, and the Hellenikon project was viewed as an ideal avenue for boosting job creation and tourism.

COVID-19 and Hard Rock appeals are preventing Greece from moving forward with MGE. But the pandemic is also placing added emphasis on getting the effort off the ground, because market observers expect Greece’s economy will contract by five percent to 10 percent this year due to the virus.

Previously, it was expected the country’s GDP would rise two percent to three percent this year. Greece has just over 2,500 coronavirus cases and 130 deaths.