Hard Rock Refuses to Give up on Hellinikon Casino License

  • Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment were the only two bidders
  • The Hellenic Gaming Commission doubted Hard Rock's financing and construction experience
  • Decision slammed by Hard Rock, taking legal action if the application rejection isn't overturned
fountain pen and 'rejected' stamped on a document
Despite its application being rejected, Hard Rock International has refused to give up on securing the gaming license at Greece’s Hellinikon integrated resort project. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Not giving up

Hard Rock International has refused to give up on securing a license to operate gaming license at the Hellinikon integrated resort in Greece.

The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) rejected Hard Rock’s bid for a 30-year license to operate the casino at the €8bn ($8.88bn) resort project earlier this week. However, Hard Rock has slammed the reasons for its application being rejected and threatened legal action if the decision isn’t overturned.

Hard Rock has slammed the reasons for its application being rejected and threatened legal action

The battle for this license was only between Hard Rock and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (along with its local partner GK Terna), which suggests the latter is now in prime position to secure the license.

Reasons for rejection

According to a Reuters source, the US casino operator’s application was rejected because the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) had concerns about the Hard Rock’s financing and construction experience for a project of this size. Previously, there was talk that the Hard Rock’s letter of guarantee had been submitted a few days after the tender’s deadline.

A subsequent report in the National Herald contained a number of quotes from Michael Karloutsos, the Hard Rock’s authorized advisor for the project, in response to these allegations.

He said that these allegations were “absolutely laughable” in relation to the company’s financial capacity to complete this project. He speculated that the HGC must be dealing with some sort of confusion. Karloutsos said:

it’s clear they are referring to our competition.”

Refusing to walk away

Karloutsos spoke about the Mohegan’s financial troubles, as well as its lack of success on a global level. In contrast, the Hard Rock operates across 75 different countries and has had a presence in Greece for decades, even during the economic crisis that crippled the country over the past decade.

The Hard Rock advisor voiced his disappointment about how the company heard about its license being rejected through the media as opposed to from the HGC itself.

He spoke about how this was the latest in an ongoing pattern of leaks that have constantly being undermining the entire process to date.

What happens next?

As soon as the HGC officially notifies the two applicants of its final decision, the party that loses out has ten business days to appeal the decision.

According to Karloutsos, legal action will be taken by the Hard Rock if its bid has in fact been rejected. He said that the company is committed to taking this process to the end.

Since the announcement of this integrated resort project at the site of the old Athens international airport, there have been countless delays. This led to many notable casino operators pulling out of the race for the license. 

Initially, the development of the project could only begin once the casino license was awarded. However, the government is trying to change this rule as they want to allow the main developer for the project, Lamda Development, to begin.

Once development begins, the government will receive an initial payment of €300m ($333m) from the construction company.