Thu, May 30, 8:53am by Staff Writer
Greek officials announced this week that the bidding period for its lone Athens casino licence is being extended by a month, with the new deadline now June 28.
Casino.org is reporting that the delay is the latest setback for the capital city’s redevelopment following its bailout by the European Union.
The casino licence attracted interest from numerous gaming companies including US-based operators Caesars Entertainment, Mohegan Suns, and Hard Rock International, but those companies are losing interest as delays persist.
Greece’s Hellenic Gaming Commission announced Monday that the deadline for proposals was being extended from May 31 to June 28.
The regulatory authority did not provide a reason for the pushback.
Greece is home to several casinos, the largest being the Regency Casino Mont Parnes in Acharnes.
The gaming floor houses 700 slot machines and 50 table games, located roughly 25 miles from Athens.
Athens is the primary tourism destination in Greece and one of the world’s oldest city, with its attraction the Acropolis attracting more than five million visitors annually.
Permitting a casino resort to be built nearby is why the liberalisation has enticed several large casino operators’ interest.
The Hellenic Gaming Commission says its review will be “conducted on the basis of the most economically advantageous offer based on the best price-quality ratio.”
The minimum investment for the casino property is $1.12 billion.
The complex must include a casino with at least 500 slot machines and 100 table games, hotel and conference facilities.
The operating licence will be good for 30 years.
The integrated resort is part of Greece’s post-bailout scheme to make the country more financially stable.
The International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook ranks Greece as the 49th richest economy, with GDP totaling $235.8 million last year.
Tourism accounts for nearly 20 per cent of the country’s economic activity.
The European Union, IMF and European Central Bank bailed out the country in 2016 to the tune of more than $260 billion.
The global financial crisis of 2007-08 struck Greece especially hard, and the country nearly defaulted on its debt.
Threatening the viability of the Eurozone itself, the European Union, IMF and Central Bank loaned the massive funds in order for the country to continue making its payments.
— Kathimerini English Edition (@ekathimerini) May 27, 2019
With the three US casino operators reportedly losing interest in the Greece resort, a Chinese group has emerged as the frontrunner to win the licence.
China’s Fosun – an international investment conglomerate – has partnered with Abu Dhabi real estate firm Eagle Hills to build a casino on the former Hellinikon airport grounds.
Along with the resort, Fosun and Eagle Hills plan to build luxury homes, hotels and yachting marina.
Hellinikon was replaced by Athens International Airport, which opened in 2001.
The airport suffered as a result of the country’s debt crisis, as passenger traffic fell from more than 16.5 million travellers in 2007 to 12.5 million passengers in 2013.
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 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.
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