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Greek Company in Talks With US’ Hard Rock for Hellinikon Casino

Hard Rock is now interested in pursuing an interest in the casino rights to the new Hellinikon casino project. Credit: Lamda Development

GEK Terna, the Greek company which has won the contract bid for the creation of the new casino at the former Hellinikon airport, is reportedly in talks with US company Hard Rock to create a consortium responsible for the project.

After Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment withdrew its interest in the Hellinikon Integrated Resort Casino (IRC) last spring, constructor GEK Terna is listed as the sole shareholder of the Inspire Athens consortium. The tender winning consortium was comprised by GEK Terna‘s 35% and Mohegan’s 65%.

Now the Greek company is looking for a new partner. Hard Rock, which had made an unsuccessful bid for the Hellinikon casino in October 2019, is reportedly interested in filling in Mohegan‘s Inspire Athens share.

Hard Rock interest in Hellinikon casino “never seized”

The two sides neither confirm nor deny the talks. Hard Rock sources reportedly have flatly stated that their interest in the IRC was not taken advantage of. Even if an agreement is achieved in record time, it will have to be shelved until the Greek Finance Ministry approves the casino license for the new Hellinikon casino consortium.

According to Naftemporiki financial daily, the project has a €1.1 billion budget, with €950 million as construction cost and €150 million as operating license fee. GEK Terna’s share on Inspire Athens has risen to 100%, after the Mohegan withdrawal.

Finding a partner for the project is a foregone conclusion for GEK Terna. The question now is how high Hard Rock’s stake in the Hellinikon casino consortium will be. According to reports in Kathimerini news daily, the Greek government is willing to give the potential deal a boost by speeding up the licensing process.

Greek state to get €150 million for casino license fee

The Greek state stands to gain €150 million as soon as the license deal with the consortium is signed. Sources say that there are other potential partners interested in the project by investment funds, even in the hotel industry.

Mohegan and Hard Rock were the two US companies to fight for the Hellinikon casino bid in October 4, 2019. Hard Rock was disqualified by the bidding committee during the legal document examination process. The main reason for this was that its Participation Guarantee Letter had an expiration date four days prior to the bidding due date.

Hard Rock attempted to legally challenge its disqualification from the process, to no avail. The company took its case to the Council of State, the country’s highest court, and lost.

The ensuing pandemic and its economic cost to companies around the world led to Mohegan’s withdrawal from the Hellinikon casino consortium last March. The company has never clearly stated the reasons for withdrawing its participation.

There are still rumors that despite financially backing down, Mohegan is still interested in providing its extensive casino expertise to the consortium. But if GEK Terna reaches an agreement with Hard Rock, Mohegan will have to abandon the Hellinikon casino project, per the bidding process’ conditions.

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