Sheldon Adelson / Getty
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Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands corporation announced today it was abandoning plans to invest US$30 billion in the Spanish economy over the next ten or fifteen years to build a giant casino and tourist resort.
A location had been selected outside Madrid but the Spansih government apparently turned down some of the special demands made on it by Sands, including a guarantee against the adverse impact of future legislative change – a.k.a. taxes.
EuroVegas as the project was known, mirroring the Disney theme park EuroDisney in epithet if not in purpose, was conceived as a resort complex that would ultimately comprise six separate casinos, a dozen hotels and plenty of retail destination shopping.
It would have provided up to 250, 000 jobs (including construction jobs) and helped kick-start the Spanish economy. Spain now possesses plenty of modern infrastructure but also a huge unemployment problem, particular amongst its young people, since the economic implosion in Europe which has hit the country very hard.
In commenting on the cancellation Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said at a news conference after the cabinet held its regular weekly meeting, “New conditions were put forward concerning taxes and legal protection … which could not be taken on board by the administrations involved, ”
“The government needs to preserve the general interests of all Spaniards, ” she said.
With smoking also banned in public spaces in Spain now, Las Vegas Sands had also been seeking an exemption for the casinos so that gamblers would feel comfortable while they make their bets. This idea did not go down well either.
Sheldon Adelson’s focus for his company will now likely shift again to Asia again, where his projects in Macau are already well established.
He said of the decision, “While the government and many others have worked diligently on this effort, we do not see a path in which the criteria needed to move forward with this large-scale development can be reached.”
“Developing integrated resorts in Europe has been a vision of mine for years, but there is a time and place for everything and right now our focus is on encouraging Asian countries, like Japan and Korea, to dramatically enhance their tourism offering through the development of integrated resorts there.”
The Catholic Church in Spain had also been opposed to the new development, for obvious reasons, but one can only sense that maybe an opportunity has been lost here somehow.
Of course it could also be an exercise in brinkmanship by Adelson. Having pushed maybe just a little too hard he might come back to the table again later before he completely folds his cards; whether with a cigarette in his hand, or not.