Global Gambling Industry’s Giants Are Eyeing Greece’s €8 Billion Casino Project

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Staff member
May 3, 2008
There is a €8 Billion casino project on the horizon in Greece, and industry's giants are showing interest in it, despite all the taxes and laws in relation to the gambling licenses. The project involves a 600,000 square-meter resort that would include meeting, exhibition and convention facilities, a number of hotels, entertainment venues and different themed tourist attractions, multiple beverage and food facilities and retail space. A real tourist paradise.

What all of this has to do with the gambling industry and why are there interested bidders from the very beginning? Well, the integrated resort would involve a huge, 15,000 square-meter gambling establishment, a casino with a 8,000 square-meter gaming floor, for which the Hellenic Gaming Commission is certain that will have a major role in the overall success of the project.

The beauty lies in the great benefit the winning casino investor gets, which is in the 30-year-long gaming license from the Hellenic Gaming Commission. The gaming regulator grants this license because the project will create 10,000 construction jobs in the beginning and it is believed to create over 70,000 indirect and direct jobs during the first years of operation.

The resort will be built at the former Ellinikon International Airport site near Athens, the capital city.

Who Is Interested in the Project so Far?

Rumors are several influential gambling companies are interested in bidding for the integrated resort, such as the US brands Caesars Entertainment, Hard Rock and Mohegan, as well as the Las Vegas-based, Miura Holdings, and Las Vegas Sands. The Group Lucien Barriere, a French company is just another company believed to be interested in the project, as well as the Canadian Clairevest Group. The latest whispers say that Melco Resorts & Entertainment is in for the win, too.

To make things more interesting, some claim that they have heard about a possible cooperation between two or even more of the interested companies. Muira Holdings is believed to be in close relations with Mohegan Sun, so there is a possibility here. They may join forces and work together as partners. What will really happen and who will get to invest in the project is yet to be seen. The international tender for the casino license will open in October.

How Much Are the Licenses Worth?

The lucky winner of the bidding will have to pay a whopping €5 million to get the gambling license issued. In addition, as experts predict, the casino operator that will take charge of the project will probably want to put the casino online, as well. If that is the case, they would have to pay an additional €1 million for offering online gambling services, plus another €4 million if they want to include sports betting and get the sports betting license.

An important note is that all the gambling-related permits and licenses are valid for only 5 years. The licensees will have to renew them at least one year before the expiration date. Additionally to the license by the Greek regulatory bodies, the operators would have to have at least one more license by another European country.

And to further complicate things, as part of the application process, in order to prove that they have a huge amount of money, the investors would have to make a deposit of €500,000. And though it is still not specified whether the 35% tax on the operator revenue will change or not, the potential investor would have to consider paying that, too.

Let’s not forget the gamblers and their share of taxes they need to pay. Online gamblers would have to pay a 15% tax if their winnings exceed €100 and go up to €500. Those who win over €500 will have to pay a 20% tax for the sum of money they have won.

Predictions on the Potential Bidding Winner

Having in mind that Melco Entertainment has already started developing a resort in the Republic of Cyprus, worth over €500 million, it is quite unlikely that they would take on another project in near future. Hard Rock has won the bidding for a resort in Spain, worth a mind-blowing €1 billion, so it's almost impossible that they have another €8 billion to invest in Greece. The most likely winner is Caesars. The Caesars is believed to be the first one to express interest in the project, since last year, and maybe that would have an influence on the decision.

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