Hard Rock

Casino and hospitality operator Hard Rock International is set to take ‘necessary action’ to protect its brand following its disqualification by Greek gambling regulators regarding its bid for a 30-year license for a casino resort near Athens. 

The proposal, which was tabled for the Hellinikon Casino Tender, was reportedly turned down for ‘technical reasons and for the substance of its offer’, with the authority instead granting the permit to Hard Rock‘s rival, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment.

HRI released a statement in response to the disqualification which reads: “While we are disappointed by this news, we are more disappointed in the process.  Hard Rock firmly believes it was wrongly disqualified based on an inaccurate rationale and a clear conflict of interest. 

“Hard Rock engaged its legal counsel in Greece and has retained counsel in Brussels to review the matter. Hard Rock has uncovered that the law firm advising the Hellinikon IRC Tender Committee and the Hellenic Gaming Commission on our disqualification, has also represented a member of the competing bidder since 2008.” 

As well as citing conflict of interest, HRI also stated that its competitors should have been disqualified following ‘deficiencies’ in their submissions and made it clear that it would seek to reverse the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s decision to award the license to its rival bidder.

The statement concluded: “Hard Rock put forward to the committee serious deficiencies in our competitor’s submission, including its failure to notify the committee of one of its member’s participation in a price fixing cartel, which we were advised should have led to their disqualification.

“Hard Rock will take the necessary actions to protect the company and its brand from unfair and improper practices both in Greece and with the European Commission. 

“The company’s goal is to see that a fair process for the tender is completed and that the technical and financial sections of the submission are opened for both parties to ensure a transparent outcome.”

Earlier this week Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment saw its proposed integrated resort and casino development for Greece’s Hellinikon Project approved by the Hellenic Gaming Commission, as widely expected.

The Connecticut headquartered firm unveiled plans for Inspire Athens last year, with the proposed integrated resort and casino development slated to create in excess of 7,000 jobs for the region during and after construction, including direct, indirect and induced.

The casino property is to form just one part of Lamda Development‘s wider €8bn Hellinikon Project, being developed on the site of the old Ellinikon International Airport which has sat empty for more than 18 years after being replaced by the new Athens entity.

The wider multi-faceted construction is also slated to incorporate a metropolitan park, shops, offices, sports and conference facilities, luxury hotels, museums, malls, cultural venues, health centres, educational and research facilities and a marina.