ATHENS – With no end in sight to delays holding back an $8 billion development of the abandoned Hellenikon International Airport on the capital city’s coast, the deadline for bids to be submitted for a major casino there is said being set back again, to the end of June.
The casino is one of the major centerpieces of the development that has seen repeated obstacles put up by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA whose hard-core elements don’t want any foreign businesses in Greece at the same time Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras does.
There are four bidders but Kathimerini said it appears that Caesar’s Entertainment is losing interest and that other prospective investors reportedly wanting more time to study the joint ministerial decision outlining the zoning plan for the property.
A consultation period for an environmental study expires on May 14 and it is growing unlikely that there can be a ministerial decision by May 31, the paper said, after an April 22 deadline was missed.
Three investors – American companies Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and Hard Rock, and Malaysia’s Genting – have completed the submission of their comments both on the casino license concession terms and on the terms for leasing the property.
Those were set by the developers, Greece’s Lambda, which is working in a consortium with China’s Fosun and Abu Dhabi’s Eagle Hills company. The paper said all, however, are seeking a rent reduction for the casino building although no lease terms have been set.
The lease contract is closely linked to the contract expected for the concession of the 30-year casino license at Elliniko, which is needed to get the project underway with New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, leading in polls with elections coming this year, said he’d give the green light for the project.
The license will be good for 30 years, the tender published in the EU’s Official Journal said. The Hellenikon consortium, growing frustrated over repeated delays, said the casino is vital to the project which will create a mixed high-end development of commercial buildings, hotels, a port and luxury structures instead of being turned into Europe’s biggest urban park as was envisioned before Greece’s economic crisis brought a need for money instead.
The Hellenic Gaming Commission announced the call for tenders, giving companies less than two months to put proposals together. The casino will be in competition as well with nine other casinos in Greece – some losing money – and as there are plans to add more on the popular tourist islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete.
It is still unknown when the winning applicant will be revealed. The Hellenic Gaming Commission said that the international tender will be “conducted on the basis of the most economically advantageous offer based on the best price-quality ratio.”
The operator will have to develop a resort with a gaming floor, accommodation facility, conference center, and a number of other facilities and invest no less than one billion euros ($1.13 billion) in the property, Casino News said.
Applicants need to have experience in the operation of at least one casino with no fewer than 100 gaming tables and now fewer than 500 slot machines; of at least one five-star hotel with no fewer than 800 beds; and of at least one conference and exhibition center of a total area of at least 7,500 square meters or at least one public sports or cultural events meeting place with capacity of no fewer than 2,000 seats.
The casino resort will occupy a site of approximately 15,000 square meters (161,459 square feet) in the area where the Hellinikon complex will be developed, if ever.