American casino operator, Hard Rock International, has reportedly had its plan to build and operate a new gambling facility on the outskirts of the Greek capital city of Athens roundly rejected by the European nation’s gaming regulator.
According to a report from the Ekathimerini newspaper, the nine-member Hellenic Gaming Commission unanimously rebuffed the operator’s bid on Friday after taking evidence from a special committee tasked with selecting the firm to bring an integrated casino resort to the site of the country’s former Ellinikon International Airport.
The newspaper reported that the decision means that Hard Rock International has now been completely ruled out of the race to help redevelop the 1,532-acre site located some four miles south of central Athens and left a consortium consisting of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment and Greek construction conglomerate GEK Terna as the sole remaining runner for the 30-year casino license.
Ellinikon had served as the principal airport for Greece until 2001 when it was replaced by the much larger Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos. The government earlier gave local real estate firm Lamda Development with backing from Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills development concern and Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group permission to transform the giant area into an €8 billion ($8.9 billion) seaside resort featuring a series of luxury hotels and residences alongside a yachting marina and a large casino.
Ekathimerini used its Tuesday report to explain that the casino tender from Hard Rock International was rejected ‘for technical reasons and for the substance of its offer’ following deliberations that took three months although the operator is now said to be considering whether to appeal the ruling from the Hellenic Gaming Commission.
The race to bring an integrated casino resort to Athens reportedly comes with a minimum €30 million ($33.4 million) price tag while Lamda Development has reportedly been prevented from starting any work until the identity of winning bidder has been publicly announced.