Casino License Bidding Process for $8-Billion Elliniko Resort May Begin in May; Caesars among Interested Operators

Casino License Bidding Process for $8-Billion Elliniko Resort May Begin in May; Caesars among Interested Operators

The Greek Finance Ministry is reportedly preparing a tender for a consultant that will in turn help in drafting the tender for casino bids for the $8-billion development project at the site of the former Ellinikon International Airport near Athens, local news outlet Kathimerini reported earlier today.

The actual call for tenders for a casino license is expected to be issued in late May or even in late June.

It has also previously been reported that Las Vegas casino giant Caesars Entertainment has expressed interest in operating a casino at the major complex, planned to be built in Elliniko, a southern suburb of the Greek capital, Athens.

Last summer, the Greek government approved the construction of an $8-billion integrated resort at the site of the Elliniko airport. The portion of land had served as Athens’ international airport prior to 2001. It then hosted facilities for the 2004 Summer Olympics.

The project for the site’s redevelopment was brought up by a group of Abu Dhabi and Chinese investors, including Chinese conglomerate Fosun. Its approval came as part of Greece’s privatization program under its bailout deal. Greek contractor Lamda Development also participates in the plan as a local partner.

When Can Construction Begin?

The group of investors cannot begin construction on the multi-billion project before it receives a final approval from the Greece’s Council of State, which acts as the country’s Supreme Administrative Court.

The Council will have to sign off a presidential decree allowing the project’s realization. It is set to begin reviewing the expensive plan on January 29. While it may have require sessions before coming to a final decision, many believe that the court will not be such a big of a hurdle.

Developers aim to have the casino license issued sometime this summer or in the fall. At present, Caesars Entertainment has been the only international casino operator to have expressed interest in operating the casino portion of the complex. However, investors believe that more interested parties will come forward once the call for bids is launched.

Construction work on the Elliniko integrated resort was expected to begin late last year, but bureaucratic hurdles delayed the process. Investors now hope that construction can begin by the end of 2018.

Lamda Development has previously said that more than 10,000 jobs will be generated during construction. Once fully operational, the resort is expected to create over 70,000 jobs during its first five to six years.

As for the casino portion of the scheme, global consultancy firm Deloitte predicts that it could generate gross gaming revenue of €700 million in the long term.

The Greek government recently approved a series of reforms concerning the nation’s casino industry. The Elliniko project investors have welcomed the changes, as they could be favorable for attracting high roller casino players to the resort’s gaming floor.

However, the ambitions of the multi-billion development (touted as one of the largest of its kind in Europe) could also be marred by the construction and opening of Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s Cyprus casino resort in the early 2020s. The Hong Kong-based company is planning to invest €500 million in building a multi-purpose complex with a gaming floor in the Cypriot city of Limassol. Aside from the fact that the Athens and the Cypriot resorts will be located not far from each other, they will also target the same group of casino players – high rollers from the Asia-Pacific region. And this could cause certain competition headaches to owners of the two resorts.