US Gambling Giants Mohegan, Hard Rock, Seek Hellenikon Casino License

The National Herald

(Photo by ND Press Office/Dimitris Papamitsos via Eurokinissi)

The bid for a casino license essential to the 8-billion euro ($8.93 billion) development of the long-delayed abandoned Hellenikon International Airport on Athens' coast is down to two US heavyweights, others scared off by stalling under former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA.

Connecticut's Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MG&E) Chief Executive Mario Kontomerkos told reporters on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) that his company is still in the game for the license, with the tender set to go out on Oct. 4.

The only other potential bidder in Hard Rock International, which has its headquarters in Florida. has reiterated the casino operator's interest in an international tender for an integrated resort casino at the Helleniko site, its president and CEO, Mario Kontomerkos, told reporters on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

MG&E local partner in a consortium expected to bid for the license is ATHEX-listed GEK Terna, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki. Kontomerkos said the company is pleased with the new New Democracy's push to streamline bureaucratic procedures needed for the privatization to get off the ground, while adding that MG&E looks forward to contributing to the "landmark project" for the country, the report added.

The October date is behind that set earlier by Development and Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis, another delay although Prime Minister Kyrikos Mitsotakis said getting the development going was his top priority, but now pushed back at least to year's end.

Hard Rock International Chairman and Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen announced a binding offer for the casino in August, of 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion,) with the company putting up 250 million euros ($279.81 million,) and the rest to be financed.

The casino package includes a hotel, a conference center, restaurants and other entertainment areas, the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency said. Allen said that his proposal will respect local culture and include local agencies, bringing the casino to a city that has been international for 3,000 years.

The Hard Rock proposal he said would create 3,000 new jobs in construction and 1,600 in the facilities and would be completed in 20-26 months. Hard Rock International has facilities in 74 countries with 188 Hard Rock Cafes, 240 Rock shops, 29 hotels and 11 casinos, Allen said.