Hellinikon Casino License Tender to Commence within Weeks

Bidding process for €1-billion casino, part of Europe’s largest integrated resort project, to commence within weeks

The start of the bidding process for a casino license for the former Ellinikon International Airport near Athens, Greece is set to begin in the coming weeks, local news outlet Kathimerini reports.

The Greek Finance Ministry and a specially assembled inter-ministerial committee will carry out the casino tender. The Hellenic Gaming Commission was previously tasked with preparing the bidding process. The gambling regulator has selected law firms KLC Law Firm and Ernst & Young as its consultants during the preparation process. The Commission leased in December the virtual room for the casino tender to a British firm, Kathimerini further reported earlier today.

The bidding process was initially expected to be completed by the end of 2018, but hurdles of different nature delayed its start. The eventual launch of the casino tender will mark the official start of the Hellenic Gaming Commission and other competent authorities’ quest for a suitable candidate to build and operate a €1-billion casino as part of a larger integrated resort scheme at the site of Athens’ former international airport.

The airport was shuttered in 2001 to be replaced by the new Athens International Airport. The site of the old airport eventually found a spot in a lengthy list of other assets the Greek government sought to sell as part of its privatization program under its third bailout.

The Hellinikon

Greek real estate development company Lamda Development was selected as the preferred developer of the €8-billion Hellinikon integrated resort at the site of the former airport. The property will include residential communities and hotels, retail centers, venues for family entertainment, a modern business park, and food and beverage facilities, among others.

As mentioned earlier, a €1-billion casino will, too, be part of the massive project. During a consultation period launched by the Hellenic Gaming Commission, a number of international gaming and hospitality companies expressed interest in operating the gaming portion of the resort and approached the gambling regulator with questions and comments on the development scheme.

According to the latest reports from local news outlets, US gaming companies Caesars Entertainment Corp., Hard Rock International, and Mohegan Sun have been considered the favorites for the casino license.

It has also emerged that discussions over the terms of the license have been the reason for the delayed start of the casino tender. The annual rent the preferred casino operator will be paying to Lamda is believed to have been one of the main topics considered by interested gaming companies, regulators, and other stakeholders. According to media reports, Lamda is asking for annual rent of between €20 million and €30 million.

News outlets have also reported that if an interested operator agrees to pay a rent of up to €30 million and to invest up to €1 billion in the Hellenikon casino, it might be exempt from a license fee.

The casino tender is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of the year. If no further delays occur, Lamda is anticipated to break ground on the complex by the end of 2019.

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