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Madrid government rejoices at news of EuroVegas decision

11/09/2012 Bruno Gª - José Marcos EL PAIS

Opposition politicians fear “tax haven” abuses as doubts amid lingering doubts over macro-project’s financing.

The announcement that EuroVegas will finally be built in Madrid after months of uncertainty was welcomed with “great joy” by the regional government, which called the news “a liberation.”

“The regional premier’s determination has brought this project here over other serious candidates like Barcelona,” said a spokesperson for Esperanza Aguirre, of the conservative Popular Party (PP).

Madrid and Barcelona had been fighting over the chance to host what amounts to a Las Vegas franchise — an enormous gambling complex that could hold up to 12 resorts with 3,000 rooms each, six casinos, an auditorium with a seating capacity for 15,000 people, nine show rooms, seven theaters, dozens of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, between one and three golf courses and 40,000 parking spots. The project is the brainchild of the US business tycoon Sheldon Adelson, the world’s 14th richest individual and owner of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), who said he wants “to create a mini-Las Vegas in Europe.”

“Perhaps today, unlike 30 years ago, Madrid is more cosmopolitan and more open than Barcelona,” said Aguirre in a radio interview to justify Adelson’s decision to snub the Catalan nationalist government. “Catalonia has an advantage that we cannot compete with, which is the sea, but perhaps the sea is not so interesting to someone who just wants people to be in his hotels, his theaters, his museums and his sports areas.”

The public tug-of-war between both regions met with public protests over the plans and numerous question marks regarding just how much money and jobs EuroVegas will bring. Spanish politicians rushed to say that Adelson’s project will mean a 16.9-billion-euro investment and 261,000 new jobs, but the fact is that the figures have been changing from one month to the next. In the meantime, Adelson has demanded special legal treatment for his complex, including exemptions from labor laws, the smoking ban and major tax breaks for a decade.

Madrid’s Socialists say they will be “very vigilant” when it comes to “the secret conditions” negotiated between Aguirre’s government and the magnate because “the law must be the same for everyone,” said the party branch secretary general, Tomás Gómez.

Meanwhile, UPyD spokesman Luis de Velasco noted that his group has opposed this project from day one “because we disagree with this growth model based on gambling for the region; we disagree with the final goal, with the legislative concessions and with the public economic resources that will be used.”


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