Greece's High Court Rejects Hard Rock Casino Bid Appeal


Τhe abandoned Hellenikon International Airport in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS - Hard Rock International’s appeal after being knocked out of bidding for a casino at the still-undeveloped 8-billion euro ($8.67 billion) abandoned Hellenikon International Airport site was rejected for a second time by Greece’s highest administrative court.

The Council of State ruling paves the way for the only other bidder left at the time, the Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment to have the license despite being downgraded to a near-default risk by Moody’s Investors, with casinos hard hit by lockdowns aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

The US company had cited irregularities in the procedure as well as problems with the rival bid in which Mohegan teamed with a Greek partner, GEK Terna, which includes one of the country’s biggest contractors.

This ruling ends the legal battle over the casino license and allows the Hellenic Gaming Commission (EEEP) to give Mohegan the license for a casino of at least 1.2 hectares (2.96 acres), with at least 120 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines, as well as a luxury hotel, entertainment venues, a conference center and a sports center.

Mohegan said it’s still fully committed despite its severe financial problems without explaining how it would proceed. The company is ready to start construction work once it wins the tender “despite the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on the gaming sector,” the CEO of MGE, Mario Kontomerkos stated.

Mohegan’s plan with Greek construction firm GEK TERNA, dubbed Inspire Athens, is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists and generate more than 7,000 jobs at the site.