Hard Rock Confident Of Favourable Hellenikon Casino Ruling

Hard Rock International, the jilted group in a Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) competition to open an integrated resort on the site of old Hellenikon International Airport, hopes that a Greek court of appeals will see things in its favour and grant it a gaming licence.

MGE, Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe gaming company, secured the Hellenikon licence in January after a lengthy competition that ultimately came down to it and Hard Rock. Calling the decision “laughable,” Hard Rock vowed to lodge an appeal and bind the case in court if necessary.

The Greek Preliminary Appeals Authority and the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) have also denied appeals from Hard Rock since. The case will be heard by the country’s highest administrative tribunal today, Monday, April 27.

Spokesman Michael Karloutsos told the National Herald in an interview: “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.”

Florida’s Seminole Tribe gaming arm claims that HGC has several reasons for transforming its tender offer back into a gaming venue to develop part of the abandoned airport site, but that operator has not been told of what those issues are.

Hard Rock’s proposal for the Hellenikon project called for a $1.1 billion investment to build an integrated resort with hotel rooms, meeting and conference space, hundreds of dining spaces and a gaming area of at least 1,200 slot machines and 120 table games. The dollar amount of the offer for MGE has not been disclosed.

It is rumoured that one explanation for the rejection of Hard Rock in Greece is that the authorities there say that the company has no experience in constructing such large-scale ventures, an argument that the operator scoffs at, noting that it has built gaming properties in Florida, New Jersey, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Canada and the Dominican Republic.

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

Speculation swirled earlier this year that Hard Rock’s bid was discarded due to a lack of financial documents in its filing, another assertion disputed by the organisation – one the retailer claims was leaked to the media before learning about the complaint.

The Greek economy was one of the most resurgent in the Eurozone prior to the coronavirus outbreak, and the Hellenikon project was seen as an ideal avenue to improve job growth and tourism.

COVID-19 and Hard Rock appeals prohibit Greece from going ahead with MGE, but the pandemic also puts additional focus on bringing the initiative off the ground, as market analysts expect Greece’s economy to contract 5% to 10% this year because of the virus.

Previously, the country’s GDP was forecast to grow this year from two percent to three percent. Greece has more than 2,500 cases of coronavirus, with 130 deaths.