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Greece – Mohegan in driving seat for Athens casino as Hard Rock bid is rejected

By - 16 January 2020

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment is now the sole bidder in the much-delayed tender process to build a casino resort on the site of the former Athens airport in Hellinikon with the competing bid from Hard Rock International (HRI) reportedly failing to make it through to the next round.

Local newspaper Kathimerini has reported that the Hellenic Gaming Commission (EEEP) has unanimously accepted the conclusions of the committee for the tender of the Elliniko casino concerning the rejection of the bid by Hard Rock International (HRI).

The winner will receive 30-year licence for the casino resort, covering 1.2 hectares, with a minimum of 120 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines, alongside a hotel, entertainment venues, a conference center and sports center.

Reuters has reported that Hard Rock submitted plans that ‘failed to meet the tender’s criteria for financing of the project and required construction experience.’ Hard Rock’s bid is also believed to have been rejected for technical reasons and for the substance of its offer.

Hard Rock is likely to appeal the decision. The company’s Authorised Advisor Michael Karloutsos said to The National Herald: “It is absolutely laughable to think that Hard Rock does not have the financial capacity and construction capability to complete the project at Hellenikon. If this report is true, I would suggest the Committee and Commission must be confused because it is clear they are referring to our competition.”

“Even our supposed disqualification was leaked to the press prior to Hard Rock receiving official notification from the Government. We don’t even know if it’s true. These leaks have done an incredible injustice to the Greek people. When no one would invest in Greece and Greek companies themselves were fleeing Greece for safer surroundings Hard Rock bought out its franchise and invested millions of dollars in relocating its cafe to Monastiraki. That’s the type of company we need at Hellenikon and that is the type of partner Greece needs to invest in its future.”

Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, and its Greek partner GEK TERNA, wants to develop Inspire Athens as the first Integrated Resort and Casino in Greece, designed by Steelman Partners.

The concept form draws inspiration from the architectural history of Greece, particularly from Athenian sculptures and buildings including the Acropolis and the Caryatids.

With state-of-the-art meeting facilities that will reposition Athens as the preferred MICE destination, a multi-purpose indoor event space, and sprawling resort pools, Inspire Athens intends to marry world-class luxury hospitality and ceaseless entertainment in a way that’s never before been seen in the south of Europe. Much of the resort was designed to capitalise on the Greek affinity for the outdoors where virtually all the resort’s restaurants, bars, lounges, and nightclubs offer both indoor and outdoor experiences. The collection of food, beverage, and retail outlets includes internationally-recognised brands as well as domestic favourites that accentuate traditional Greek dining, drinking, and shopping. INSPIRE Athens intends to be southern Europe’s centre for A-list music concerts, theatrical performances, major sporting events, and other arts and cultural activities on a weekly basis.

The Inspire Athens development is estimated to create more than 7,000 jobs in the region during and after construction, including direct, indirect, and induced. The completion of the Integrated Resort and Casino is expected to increase international tourism in the Attica region by at least 10 per cent and contribute millions of euros annually to both the government and the people of Greece in the form of taxes, infrastructure improvement, and public services.

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