Fate of Europe’s First Integrated Casino Resort to be Decided by March 2019

As the bidding process for a Greek casino license has already started, only three American gambling companies have remained in contention for the planned €8 billion Elliniko integrated casino resort. Hard Rock, Caesars Entertainment and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment are currently interested in winning the permit to run the facility after the redevelopment of the former Hellenikon International Airport. By March 2019, the license should be granted and a groundbreaking ceremony is expected.

The three US-based companies are some of the world’s largest developers and operators of gambling and entertainment facilities, with properties across Europe, the Americas, and beyond. They are the three final bidders for the license, which will be granted for the planned Elliniko casino resort near Athens, local daily newspaper Kathimerini reported this week.

Several other prospective bidders have withdrawn from the race following major delays and attempts to hamper the project. Among them were the French Group Barriere and the American companies Las Vegas Sands and Melco Resorts and Entertainment.

While there are three major investors that are interested in running the future casino, a single license will be granted by the government. There will be no decision until the end of the year, according to local news outlets, while construction work on the site is not expected to begin before early 2019. The developer of the project is a consortium led by the Greek company Lambda and also featuring Chinese conglomerate Fosun and another unnamed partner from Abu Dhabi.

In June, Lambda Development discussed the plans for the complex at a shareholders meeting in Athens. Then, they confirmed that construction could start at the beginning of next year, according to the Greek business publication Naftemporiki. However, the start date may be pushed back once again and it is believed that the operator will be announced by 2019. Still, the developers from Lambda have already presented their vision for the integrated resort, revealing a larger and much more ambitious plan than previously expected.


What Will the Elliniko Casino Resort Look Like?

In June 2016, Lambda Development and the Greek Government signed a €1 billion agreement for the transfer of the property of the old Hellenikon International Airport.

Negotiations have started back in 2010 but due to political, technical and environmental issues, the privatization process was delayed multiple times. The inking of the deal allowed the government to continue with preparations for the bidding process and with the implementation of a massive investment of approximately €8 billion.

According to the plans, 1500-acre seafront land where the former airport was located would be transformed into a large seaside complex with hotels and other residential facilities, parks and cultural sites, stores, convention, and retail spaces. Of course, there would be a huge casino facility that would cover 15,000 square meters.

Along with the 10,000 construction jobs created by the project, another 70,000 to 75,000 permanent jobs are expected once the complex is fully operational. However, it will be built in several stages and over a period of 10 to 12 years, according to the developer.

Author: Anthony Huber