Taking a gamble on Spain

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Taking a gamble on Spain

Taking a gamble on Spain
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US company Las Vegas Sands has won approval to build a mega casino in Madrid.

With Spain’s unemployment level reaching 26 percent the so-called ‘Eurovegas’ casino has been billed to bring in tens of thousands of jobs.

Madrid government officials approved the mega-casino. Madrid had won out in a battle with Spain’s second-biggest city Barcelona to get it.

The complex could transform the fortunes of Alcorcon, a down-at-heel commuter town some 15 kilometres south of the Spanish capital. Government officials say the 750-hectare site could create as many as 250,000 jobs.

However, Spanish protest groups fear a rise in gambling addiction, prostitution and criminal activities. They also point out the potential damage to the environment.

The mayor of Alcorcon, David Perez, said people opposed to the project were showing little solidarity with Spain’s unemployed.

Four thousand jobless builders in Alcorcon would have work by the end of 2013 if it went ahead, Perez said in an interview on Spanish national television.

Eurovegas would include the tallest skyscrapers in Spain, Newspaper ABC reported.

Las Vegas Sands operations chief Michael Leven said the company would invest $3.6 billion (2.7 billion euros) to get the project off the ground, raise financing in 2014, and pay for 35 percent of the investment using its own funds.

The first phase would be completed by 2017.

“We have had assurances from many banks that we will have that money available so it’s not even a question,” Leven said.