The saga around the Hellinikon Casino project at Athens’ defunct airport continues and might be over now that hospitality group Hard Rock International has been handed down another denial to the group’s appeal contesting the decision of Greece’s gaming regulator which has awarded rival Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment with the rights to develop the project.
Hard Rock International was defeated in Greece’s top administrative court, having already suffered two rejections before. The decision came on Thursday, May 8, perhaps even dispersing fears that the project could see months, if not years of delays, and giving the green light to the Hellenic Gaming Commission and MGE to proceed with the next stage of the project’s realization, involving the discussion of technical execution and finances.
Originally, HRI’s bid was rejected after the Hellenic Gaming Commission established irregularities in the submission and specifically that the group had missed the deadline by reportedly four days.
No Country for Hard Rock International, Says Regulator
The saga began back in January when the Greek watchdog approved Mohegan’s submission and allowed the tribal operator to proceed and carry on with the project as Hard Rock was disqualified from the process.
The specific irregularities the Commission used to dismiss Hard Rock’s bid pertained to “important information” missing from the submission. The company was also late to present proof that Hard Rock could muster the necessary finances to realize the project and see the Hellinikon casino resort through.
Interestingly, the Hellenic Gaming Commission reportedly argued against the company’s bid, explaining its decision with Hard Rock’s lack of necessary expertise. Hard Rock used a similar argument to appeal the decision, arguing that of the two companies bidding for the resort, Hard Rock was the only one to have built a project of similar scale in the past. Presently, Hard Rock is also exploring an integrated resort project in Barcelona, Spain.
A Series of Appeals but Not the Desired Outcome
Over the last few months, Hard Rock International stuck to its guns, arguing that it wouldn’t give up on the Athens’ casino resort project, taking the fight across a number of Greek and European courts in a bid to win the project.
On April 27, the group filed a motion with the Greek Council of State, the highest-ranking administrative court in the country. Hard Rock argued that the process wasn’t exactly transparent and there was a clear conflict of interests due to the fact that the law firm representing both the Hellinikon IRC Tender Committee and Mohegan was the same.
Hard Rock said that it was disqualified based on an “inaccurate rational” and “clear conflict of interests.” The company requested that ta new tender process starts so that both companies can have a fair chance of qualifying for the project.
Hard Rock is unlikely to leave the appeal like this, and the company will probably seek more legal action against the Committee. However, the Hellenic Gaming Commission can now begin exploring Mohegan’s technical and financial offers, which will bring the project closer to realization.
The project is equally important to the Greek government which is looking to replace the abandoned site of the Athens’ airport with a $8.67 billion integrated resort project, which will include a number of top-shelf facilities, including hotels, entertainment venues, retail space, bars, wellness centers, and not least a casino.
Hellinikon should be realized with the help of Lamda Development, and the end product will be one of the largest tourist resorts in Europe.