Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) are waiting patiently for a decision from the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC), which will decide which business will run an integrated resort at the Hellenikon International Airport shuttered location.
HGC’s ruling was supposed to have been disclosed last November, but reports circulated that one of the bidders failed to submit critical financial details in their application which delayed the decision, stirring up a stream of controversy. It’s rumoured that the filing snafu was perpetrated by Hard Rock.
“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,” reports The National Herald.
Hard Rock, the Seminole Tribe’s gaming arm, fired back, saying a legal group with ties to MGE is trying to sway the HGC in favour of the Mohegan Tribe, a Connecticut based group.
Several Greek media outlets have reported in recent months that Hard Rock’s letter guarantee was submitted after a deadline set by the HGC. Another, albeit unsubstantiated, rumour is that the operator has not adequately conveyed to Greek authorities that he has experience with projects on par with the casino effort of Hellenikon.
Previously, Hard Rock had promised to spend $1.1 billion on the project calling for a hotel, meeting space and at least 1,200 slot machines and 120 table games in the gaming zone. The company believes that in 2021 or 2022, depending on when construction begins, the venue could be open and operational.
Is debatable the thesis that Hard Rock has no experience with large-scale gaming projects. The Hard Rock Atlantic City, for example, opened in June 2018, and the operator allocated over $500 million to that venue, turning it into one of the top performers on the Boardwalk.
The company’s recently completed Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood in Florida was a $1.5 billion project, and the operator previously said it was willing to spend up to $5 billion to bring an integrated resort to Hokkaido, Japan, before withdrawing from the gaming property competition there by that prefecture.
The HGC has not set a firm date for a formal announcement on the winning bidder for the gaming project Hellenikon Airport, but it is expected to happen in about six months time.
Nonetheless, after that ruling, there will be a 10-day window open in which the losing party can lodge an appeal and Hard Rock has already threatened legal action in case it does not emerge victorious. That would further postpone a now multi-year process full of delays and chase several stakeholders who became tired of the slow-moving approach of the Greek government.
The interest of Hard Rock and MGE in Greece is understandable: the winning bidder receives monopoly protection for 30 years, Athens is a tourist-rich area and no other Mediterranean countries are home to gaming properties in the style of the USA.