Hard Rock Taking Legal Action Over Casino Tender Process

  • Hard Rock International taking disqualification from tender process to European Commission
  • Alleges a conflict of interest between the Hellenic Gaming Commission and winning bidder
  • Florida-based company claims application rules were breached by a Mohegan member
Hard Rock Cafe on the Las Vegas Strip
Hard Rock International is set to file legal action over its application for a casino resort license in Greece being rejected. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

No end in sight

Hard Rock International (HRI) is set to file legal action challenging the awarding of the Greece’s Hellinikon casino resort license to its only rival bidder, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment. 

This 30-year license was officially awarded to the Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and a local operator earlier this week. Hard Rock officials were told that the Florida-based company had ten days to appeal.

Hard Rock officials were told that the Florida-based company had ten days to appeal

Hard Rock plans to bring the issue to the European Commission, as well as the relevant authorities in Greece. It is pursuing legal action in order to protect its brand from “unfair and improper practices.”

Potential conflict of interest

There have been allegations of a potential conflict of interest in the application process for this license since December 2019.

Hard Rock Intentional CEO Jim Allen spoke to Greece’s Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiades about these concerns at an event that took place in New York. 

Hard Rock alleges that the law firm that was advising the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) and the Hellenic IRC Tender Committee throughout the application process has also been representing a member of the Mohegan company since 2008.

After the decision to award the license to Mohegan was announced, Hard Rock issued a statement to say that it, “firmly believes it was wrongly disqualified based on an inaccurate rationale and a clear conflict of interest.”

The statement went on to say that there would be relevant legal action taken in order to ensure that a fair process for this license is completed. It is calling for full transparency in regards to both the financial and technical aspects of the process.

Reasons for Hard Rock’s rejection

Media outlets in Greece had reported that Hard Rock’s application was denied due to a lack of financial information when the letter of guarantee had been submitted.

The regulator allegedly doubted the financial capabilities of Hard Rock International to complete this ambitious €1bn ($1.1bn) casino resort, despite HRI being a global company with very deep pockets.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment that would struggle to finance a project of this size

This led to a Hard Rock representative fighting back, saying that it is the Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment that would struggle to finance a project of this size. In Hard Rock’s statement, it spoke about one of Mohegan’s members allegedly being involved in a price-fixing cartel, which would mean that the Mohegan’s application should have been disqualified.

What happens next?

Development for this €8bn ($8.83bn) integrated casino resort had been delayed until the casino license was awarded. However, with pending legal action, this could push the start date back even further now.

The government will not receive its first payment of €300m ($331m) until development starts, so it will be keen to get this issue quickly resolved.