Las Vegas Sands intended to open a huge casino complex called the EuroVegas in Madrid, featuring 12 hotels, 40,000 parking spaces and several casinos. The idea was to replicate the Las Vegas strip and make it the most important gaming hub in Europe, stretching over 450 ha. The EuroVegas project would also lead to tens of thousands of new jobs and should attract millions of tourists every year, so at a first glance it looked like a great thing to build in Madrid. Could the project be in jeopardy?
The costs of building such a project would be tremendous and it goes without saying that having so many five star hotels, restaurants and convention centres will make it the most important recent investment for Las Vegas Sands. The estimates for the expected development suggest figures of $8 billion, so both parties concerned had every reason to make this project work. The company started a non-binding viability study, trying to figure out how to develop the resorts at a strip.
There are many things that could bring this project to its knees, but very few expected smoking to be the main cause. Las Vegas Sands is headed by Sheldon Adelson and he informed the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that an essential condition for building the Eurovegas project is to allow smoking on the premises. The Spanish anti-smoking laws strictly forbid smoking in both new and existing casinos, so the Prime Minister was caught between a rock and a hard place.
Furthermore, Mariano Rajoy is known to be a staunch critic of smoking and he vigorously opposed any relaxation of these laws. All these elements suggest that an agreement will not be reached, but some specialists believe that there is more than meets the eye about these sudden smoking requirements. Opposition leaders claim that Las Vegas Sands’ decision has more to do with the fact that the 2020 Olympic Games will not be hosted by Madrid after all.
This will lead to fewer tourists visiting the Spanish capital seven years from now and this is a major setback for a grandiose project such as the Eurovegas. Sheldon Adelson and his company are also said to be contemplating the possibility of opening the “Eurovegas” in Ho Chi Minh City. If these rumours prove to be correct, the first thing that Las Vegas Sands will need to change is the name of the project, although smoking is probably not going to be an issue in Vietnam.