Spain gambles on casino for rescue14/09/2012
Madrid has been chosen as the site of a proposed EUR 14 billion EuroVegas gambling city by an international gambling organisation, but already the country is hedging its bets.
Government and regional ministers want the 200,000 jobs expected from six casinos and 12 hotels and the 1,000s of extra tourists that might be attracted from all over Europe. They hope the project will help with Spain’s long-term economic recovery.
But activists plan to fight the plans, claiming EuroVegas would be a bad bet for Madrid and the Spanish economy, especially as the Las Vegas Sands Corp needs to raise two thirds of the investment cash from other sources and the Spanish Government would need to spend another EUR 1 billion on transport links and other infrastructure.
“We’d be mortgaging our country if we allow this casino to be built,” said Ana Revuelta, a leader of the No EuroVegas Platform.
The protest groups point out previous US-backed leisure projects promised for Spain that never materialised, leaving sites and infrastructure to become white elephants and that Disney Group have been considering a theme park for the western end of the Costa del Sol for five years without progress.
Civic groups and politicians say the bottom line for Spain isn’t worth the project’s potential downsides. They claim it would bring increased money-laundering and prostitution—an assertion Sands rejects—and an unwelcome easing of restrictions on smoking in public spaces.
There are also concerns that tax exemptions that Sands is seeking would offset economic gains and that most of the jobs created would be low-paying. Any such exemptions would require legislative approval.
Madrid’s regional government has denied public funds would be spent on the venture.
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