Hard Rock International is confident that it will win a court appeal of the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s decision to disqualify the hotel and casino operator from the race for a license for the development of a casino resort at a defunct airport near Athens, Greece.
The Greek gambling regulator awarded the license to another US-based casino and hospitality company – Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, earlier this year.
The license authorizes the tribal gaming and hotel operator to build a €1 billion casino resort as part of a larger complex, dubbed the Hellinikon, at the site of the former Ellinikon International Airport, just outside the Greek capital.
As mentioned above, Hard Rock was disqualified from the casino license race and the company appealed that decision. Its appeal was rejected by the Hellenic Gaming Commission and the Preliminary Appeals Authority.
Greece’s highest administrative court is set to hear the appeal today. Hard Rock spokesperson Michael Karloutsos told local media that the company “will ultimately win the competition for Hellinikon” and that it is the only company in the race “to have developed a project like this before and they will do it again.”
Mr. Karloutsos went on to say that Hard Rock “is the only contender with a recognizable global brand and a worldwide network with staying power that can attract much needed additional tourists to Greece.”
Insufficient Experience and Finances Behind Rejection of Hard Rock’s Bid
According to Greek news outlets, Hard Rock sent a letter of guarantee outside the timeframe specified by the Hellenic Gaming Commission. In addition, the regulator reportedly told the company that its application papers did not demonstrate sufficient development experience and did not meet financial criteria.
Companies interested in participating in the Hellinikon casino license bidding process had until early October 2019 to submit the necessary documents with the Greek gambling regulator.
Responding to comments about its lack of experience and finances for the project, Hard Rock said last year that it was “absolutely laughable” that the company’s expertise was being questioned.
Hard Rock operates hotel and casino resorts in Florida, New Jersey, Iowa, Mississippi, and Canada, and is looking to build an integrated resort in Japan. The company was also authorized to build a luxury resort in Spain.
As mentioned earlier, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and its INSPIRE Athens concept was selected as the preferred bidder for a casino resort at the Hellinikon. The eventual start of the project has been delayed for years, and the global coronavirus crisis has pushed back groundbreaking one more time.
Hard Rock’s legal challenge is expected to further delay the process. The company maintains that “it was wrongly disqualified” and that it was victim of “unfair and improper practice.” Hard Rock also says that it is ready to take the matter to Greek and even European courts to end up as the winner in the race for the casino license.