Hard Rock International Could Be Back in Greece Casino Plan

Posted on: September 29, 2021, 12:06h. 

Last updated on: September 29, 2021, 12:28h.

After being rejected last year by the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) in its bid to bring an integrated resort to Greece, Hard Rock International could be back in the mix.

Hard Rock
Hard Rock may be back in the mix for a Greece casino. GEK Terna needs a partner. (Image: South Florida Sun Sentinel)

GEK Terna, the Greek company that won rights to build a gaming venue at the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport, is without a partner. That’s after Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) pulled out of the project. The Greek construction firm is reportedly holding discussions about a partnership.

GEK Terna is listed as the sole shareholder of the Inspire Athens consortium. The tender winning consortium was comprised by GEK Terna’s 35 percent and Mohegan Gaming’s 65 percent,” reports the Greek Reporter.

In January 2020, it was revealed the HGC opted for MGE’s bid over Hard Rock’s $1.1 billion proposal, a decision the jilted operator called “laughable.” In May 2020, the HGC rejected an appeal from Hard Rock, paving the way for MGE, the gaming unit of the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, to move forward with the project. However, it was reported in June that MGE is either reducing its stake in the Greece project or departing it entirely.

GEK Terna Probably Needs Hard Rock

There’s speculation that with MGE out of the picture, GEK Terna’s share of the airport casino project is now 100 percent.  But the construction company likely doesn’t want that obligation, nor does it have experience operating gaming venues.

Additionally, there are other goings-on at the old airport site that need to be tended to. The total cost of the renovation is forecast to be close to $9 billion. In addition to the integrated resort, developers are pitching high-end residences, a marina, convention center, dining options, and other attractions. Bottom line: GEK Terna may well be talking to Hard Rock about getting involved, and the list of other potential partners is likely short.

Previously, Caesars Entertainment and Genting Malaysia were among the gaming companies competing with Hard Rock and Mohegan Gaming for the Greek license. But bureaucratic delays, among other factors, are said to be the culprit behind those companies’ lack of interest in the project. Today, “new Caesars” is squarely focused on the US and highly unlikely to reenter the Greece casino process.

Greek Government Could Help GEK Terna Cause

Previously, the Greek government was viewed as hindering the Hellenikon integrated resort effort. But there’s talk that tune is changing and that policymakers could sweeten the pot for Hard Rock by promising to speed up the licensing process.

Athens may be compelled to do that because there’s an upfront payment tied to the project of more than $175 million, and with the Greek economy still shaking off the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, policymakers may be motivated to get a large-scale jobs-creating project off the ground.

There’s still chatter that MGE remains interested in the Greece casino project. But if GEK Terna opts to go with Hard Rock, the Connecticut tribal gaming operator could be nudged out of the picture.