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Caesars withdraws from Greek casino licencing

Thu, May 9, 5:44pm by Staff Writer

Casino operator Caesars Entertainment’s interest in Greece’s Hellinikon licence derby has ended after further delays to the process.

Calvin Ayre is reporting that the completion of the 30-year licence for an integrated resort casino on the site of Athens’ old airport would likely face further delays due to the government’s inability to solidify its zoning plans on time.

The consultation period for the project’s environmental impact study doesn’t conclude until next Tuesday, after which the government’s joint ministerial decision on the project’s zoning plan still needs to be completed.

The current deadline for interested casino applicants to file their binding offers is May 31, which was itself a delay from April 22.

The expectation is now that this will be pushed back once again, this time until the end of June.

The perpetual delays in launching the 8 billion euro Hellinikon project tender appear to have reduced the number of interested parties from four to three.

Caesars, which was among the first companies to declare its Greek intentions is reportedly rethinking its interest in the project.

Caesars famously opted against pursuing a Macau casino concession back in the day and ever since has been desperate to atone for that gaffe by pursuing other international opportunities.

However, with new investor Carl Icahn apparently hellbent on selling the company in whole or in part, Caesars is apparently not looking to involve itself in anything that might further complicate its already messy balance sheet.

The three remaining suitors – Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, Hard Rock International and Genting – have submitted their comments on licensing tender and are all reportedly pressing the project leader to reduce the proposed rent on the casino building’s lease.

The project promised to turn the former airport into a multi purpose complex that includes hotels, luxury apartments, amusement parks, restaurants, bars and a casino.

The agency overseeing public use spaces in the Hellinikon investment project held its first meetings in January with Interior Minister Alexis Charitsis in attendance.

The meeting of the nine-member board of the Agency for the Management of Common Spaces in the Metropolitan Axis of Hellinikon-Agios Kosmas, as it is formally known, was also attended by the coordinator of the project Theopisti Perka, representatives of the Finance and Interior Ministries, the secretary of the local New Democracy office Tassos Gianitanis, Hellinikon SA and Lamda Development.

Southern Europe’s largest investment in years will change the coastal landscape of Attica and involves several ministries, agencies and local municipalities who will all be impacted by the project, the Greek City Times reports.

“The long process of implementing the emblematic investment of Hellinikon both symbolically and financially marks Greece’s passage to the era of growth,” Charitsis said.

“The agency’s formation is a great achievement because it places local government at the centre of the project,” he said.

Plans for another Cyprus casino by Melco

Melco International Development, the Hong Kong-based owner of the Integrated Casino Resort Cyprus, said on Tuesday is has awarded the construction of City of Dreams Mediterranean to Avax-Terna JV, a partly owned Cypriot construction company.

A statement by ICR said that construction is set to begin this month and is scheduled to be completed by 2021.

The investment for the creation of the resorts totals 550 million euros (US$616 million).

City of Dreams Mediterranean, reportedly the region’s and Europe’s largest integrated casino resort, will be located in western Limassol.

The statement said the building will be adapted to the natural environment – a reply to criticism by environmental organisations that no environmental survey had been carried out prior to the issuing of the building permit.

Environmentalists said the bright lights of the casino would disorient migratory birds using a nearby wetland as their winter habitat.

City of Dreams Mediterranean will be feature a 16-storey hotel tower with 500 guest rooms, including multi-bay suites with garden balconies, an exhibition centre and four large outdoor pools.

According to ICR, the resort will offer a wide range of attractions and entertainment options beyond gaming.

The project is expected to attract an additional 300,000 tourists per year to Cyprus.

The casino said the construction will create an estimated 4,000 local job opportunities and 2,400 permanent jobs once the facility is fully operational, according to Xinhuanet.

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