Hard Rock International’s bid for operating the upcoming Hellinikon project in Greece has been officially rejected by the Greek officials. Therefore, the US casino operator will not be able to compete in the license race until further notice.
The Hellenic Gaming Commission (EEEP) made a unanimous decision in a meeting that took place last Friday to reject the bid made by HRI. The €8 billion project, which is planned on the place of the former Athenian airport, will not be available to HRI at the moment.
According to a piece in the Greek media outlet called Ekathimerini, there were issues with the initial bid for the license which HRI made back in November. The EEEP immediately noticed that there were irregularities in the bid and stated that there were possibilities of the bid being rejected.
On the other hand, HRI officials threatened to start legal action against the country in the Balkans if they were rejected.
The problem is that there’s officially only one bidder left for the project — Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE). Even MGE was ready to sue Greece for a certain turn of events. In fact, it threatened to sue if EEEP accepted HRI’s bid, due to obvious irregularities in the process.
Why Was HRI’s Bid Rejected?
Before the official meeting that took place last Friday, the EEEP was in a very confusing situation. The Hellinikon project, which already experienced numerous delays and deadline breaches, was facing another obstacle.
However, this time there was no visible solution to the situation. In other words, no matter what the Greek officials did, they would end up being sued by one or the other side. That would cause further delays in the process.
Nevertheless, they opted to make HRI’s bid invalid, but the comment to why it was rejected was “for technical reasons and for the substance of its offer.” It was worded so as to cast a shadow of doubt as to whether it was actually rejected due to irregularities or not.
In other words, Greece made a move that made both companies slightly confused. HRI now has 10 working days to submit objections before the case is closed, and the project moves on to the next step.
The EEEP took its time to make sure that the legal background was provided for its actions. On the other hand, the process of building the casino has still not commenced.
The company which is contracted to do that is called Lamda Development. It is not allowed to start working on the site before the license is issued to one of the operators. As soon as an operator receives the license, the building process will start.
The Hellinikon saga is a long one, as Greece takes time with every step it makes. It has been working for more than a decade on making a legal framework for online gambling licenses.
Moreover, the country has been involved in an ongoing battle against land-based casinos and the taxation system for them.
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