U.S. billionaire investor Sheldon Adelson has plans to open a £17 billion hotel and casino resort in Spain. The resort, being called “EuroVegas", would contain 12 hotels, six casinos, a concert hall, several theaters, and golf courses. It would be about half the size of the Las Vegas Strip in the United States. If plans for the resort follow through, it would be a huge stimulus to the Spanish economy.
Whether the resort will be built near Madrid or Barcelona will be determined by the Spanish government in the coming months. Barcelona has gorgeous beaches and a massive port with much cruise ship traffic. Madrid, the national capital, has a much larger, better-connected airport. Madrid appears more than willing to make exceptions for the proposal, as politicians have insisted that they will do anything in their power to win Adelson’s business.
Mr. Adelson believes that the project will generate 260,000 jobs. This staggering amount of job creation is the main attraction for the struggling economy with unemployment standing at 23%. The deal does come with some opposition, however. The amount of social security that employees would be paid, along with the strict Spanish immigration laws, are issues being discussed in the ongoing negotiations. Those that oppose the plans cite fiscal breaks and substantive Spanish law reforms as the main reasons.
The casino industry has been developing numerous resorts in Asia recently, most notably Macau and Singapore, where the ultra-high appetite to gamble has led to some of the most profitable casinos in the world. Japan currently has a ban on casinos, but that could soon be reversed as many investors are pushing the government to remove this. The casino industry as a whole has been a huge stimulus to the global economy as growth in emerging markets has been enormous.
The project, once complete, would bring tourists from around the globe and generate a significant amount of revenue for the Spanish economy. The nation already receives nearly 60 million foreign tourists each year. The Eurozone crisis is not seen as a major hindrance to this investment, as the project would take four to five years to complete. Mr. Adelson believes that “everything will be solved” and the business climate will be much more inviting by that time.
The Spanish government’s final decision on the proposal isn’t expected until this summer. It will be interesting to see if the plans for the casino are approved and finalized, as it would have a major positive effect on the struggling local economy.