Both Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) are waiting patiently while the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) decides which one of them will run an integrated resort at the site of the closed Hellenikon International Airport.
HGC’s decision was supposed to have been disclosed last November. However, reports circulated that one of the bidders left out critical financial details in their application, which postponed the decision, prompting a maelstrom of controversy. Rumors say that Hard Rock committed the filing glitch.
The National Herald reports, “The Florida-based Hard Rock’s bid is considered ineligible, media reports have said, which would give the license to the only other bidder, the Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, for a facility deemed critical for the plans to go ahead.”
As reported by casino.org, the gaming division of the Seminole Tribe, Hard Rock, retorted, saying a legal group with connections to MGE is trying to sway the HGC in favor of the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribe.
Over the last few months, a number of Greek media outlets have reported that Hard Rock’s letter guarantee was delivered after a deadline set by the HGC. Though unconfirmed rumor, another is that the operator hasn’t sufficiently conveyed to Greek authorities that it has experience with projects akin to the Hellenikon casino effort.
Hard Rock previously promised to spend $1.1 billion on the project, which calls for a hotel, meeting space, and at least 1,200 slot machines and 120 table games in the gaming area. The company believes it could have the venue open and operational in 2021 or 2022, depending upon when construction commences.
The notion that Hard Rock doesn’t have experience with large scale gaming projects is arguable. For example, the Hard Rock Atlantic City launched in June 2018, and the operator invested over $500 million in that venue, making it one of the Boardwalk’s top performers.
The company’s completed Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood in Florida recently which was a $1.5 billion project, and the operator earlier said it was keen to spend up to $5 billion to set up an integrated resort to Hokkaido, Japan before that region’s withdrawal from the gaming property competition there.
Further Court Battles
The HGC hasn’t given a date for an official announcement on the winning bidder for the Hellenikon Airport gaming project. However, it is expected to occur in the middle of this year.
However, there will be a 10-day window open following that decision in which the losing party can file an appeal, and Hard Rock has already threatened legal action should it not emerge victorious. That would further postpone a now multi-year process that has been fraught with delays and chased several interested parties that grew tired of the Greek government’s slow-moving approach.
It is understandable why Hard Rock and MGE are interested in Greece since the winning bidder gets 30 years worth of monopoly protection. Athens is flocked by tourists and no other Mediterranean countries have US-style gaming properties.