Is Controversial Megacasino the Best Cure for a Spanish City's Economic Woes?
Giles Tremlett reports on the efforts city leaders in Barcelona and Madrid are making to lure US billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands company's proposed €17bn (£14.3bn) Europa Vegas megacasino project.
Reported to be "be equivalent in size to half of the Las Vegas strip" and include "a dozen casinos, several hotels, shopping malls, conference centres, golf courses and theatres," the project is seen as a silver bullet to "create 260,000 jobs, securing work for close to half the unemployed in the densely populated provinces of either Madrid or Barcelona."
Among the concessions being demanded by Adelson, who has successfully exported his brand of Las Vegas gaming and entertainment to Singapore and Macao, are "tax breaks, gambling law changes, new labour laws and free land," writes Tremlett.
Opposition politicians and religious leaders are galvanizing supporters to fight the project. But with 23% unemployment and an economy slumping back into recession, the prospects for their success seem slim.