Hard Rock International (HRI), US casino operator, is adamant on winning a license to run gaming at Greece’s Hellinikon integrated resort project.
Greek media reported earlier this week, that the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) had refused HRI’s bid for the 30-year casino license at the proposed €8b Hellinikon project on the location of Athens’ old international airport. The refusal, which hasn’t still been officially announced, leaves HRI competitor Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and its GK Terna joint venture partner as the only remaining bidder.
Last November, rumors of supposed problems with HRI’s bid paperwork first came out. Reuters quoted a source this week, saying HRI’s bid was declined because the HGC had concerns about HRI’s financing and construction experience for such an important project.
The National Herald quoted Michael Karloutsos, HRI ‘authorized advisor’ on Thursday, saying it was “absolutely laughable” to think HRI is not financial capable to complete the Hellinikon project. Karloutsos implied that the HGC “must be confused because it’s clear they are referring to our competition.”
As reported by calvinayre.com, Karloutsos also was disappointed with the fact that HRI had become aware about this “supposed disqualification” through the press instead of directly from the source. Karloutsos said “these leaks have done an incredible injustice to the Greek people,” while implying that the leak was part of a norm which had “undermined this process from before the beginning.”
When the HGC does formally notify the two bidders of its decision, the losing company can voice any objection within 10 working days. Karloutsos assured that if its bid is disqualified, HRI would file a legal challenge, saying that the company “has said repeatedly that it will take this process to the end.”
Already the Hellinikon project has experienced numerous delays and it seems almost certain that more delays are forthcoming. The government is already attempting to lift the requirement for the casino license to be issued before main developer Lamda Development can begin work on the project, partly because the government won’t receive its first €300m payment from Lamda until work starts.