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Interest waning in Greece’s Hellinikon integrated resort

Fri, Aug 9, 8:13am by Staff Writer

At least two major casino and hospitality companies are losing interest in the long-stalled Hellinikon integrated resort project in Greece, local media reports.

Stepping in as the new Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised that he has made it his priority to finally set into motion the 8 billion euro project for the redevelopment of former Hellinikon International Airport into a luxury resort.

Casino News Daily reveals that it has recently become known that the deadline for the casino tender has been extended for a fourth time this year, with the progress unlikely to make any marked progress until later this year at the earliest.

Las Vegas casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp, which is in the middle of a $17.3 billion merger with rival Eldorado Resorts and Malaysian gaming and hospitality powerhouse Genting Group were among the companies to express interest in developing the casino complex as part of a larger, integrated resort.

Due to multiple delays in the project, the two companies are losing interest in participating in the scheme.

The Hellenic Gaming Commission launched the tender for the casino in February.

The tender is an important step that needs to be completed before the Hellinikon plan can move any further.

Good and bad news for integrated resort last month

Greece’s plans for its first integrated casino and resort outside Athens got good and bad news in July.

Calvin Ayre reports that the good news came last week after the Council of State rejected a series of objections filed against the Hellinikon project, an 8 billion euro integrated resort set to be built on the site of Athens’ former international airport.

The court also ruled against objections filed by Greece’s Archaeological Service, which had claimed the right to veto certain aspects of the project, but the court ruled that the former airport held no particularly aesthetic or historic interest.

The bad news for the project came via confirmation that the tender for the project’s lone casino licence will now extend through August, if not into September.

The deadline by which interested operators could submit their bids was originally April 22, but this date has now been pushed back four times.

The most recent deadline was supposed to be July 31, but the country held a snap national election on July 7 that resulted in the centre-right New Democracy party winning an outright majority.

The previous government tried to blame these delays on the Hellinikon project’s developed Lamda, an allegation that the company’s chief executive officer strongly rejected, noting that Lamda had submitted all its required paperwork back in February.

New Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said the government’s goal was to issue the ministerial decisions in August “to be followed by a tender for the casino”.

Mr Georgiadis said the new government remained “optimistic’ that it would be able to deliver on its promises, despite the complexity of the issues facing it.

Hard Rock & Mohegan still keen

Hellinikon has hit a number of roadblocks in the past four and a half year, with bureaucratic issues always cited as the reason for multiple delays.

The Greek Ministry of Development and Investment is currently discussing a series of joint ministerial decisions regarding the special requirements for the integrated resort as well as development zones and spatial planning requirements.

With Caesars and Genting losing interest, other companies are believed to still be interested in the opportunity to expand to Greece.

Greek media reports that representatives from Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment were in Athens last week, where they met with Minister Georgiadis to confirm their intention to bid for the casino licence.

Mohegan partnered last month with Greek construction giant GEK Terna to jointly participate in the bidding process, while Hard Rock is understood to have joined forces with Intrakat and that the latter would tend to the construction needs of the gaming and hospitality giant if it wins the casino tender.

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