MADRID Dec 13 U.S. casino operator Las Vegas
Sands has abandoned plans to invest more than $30
billion in a gambling resort outside Madrid, dealing a major
blow to the capital as Spain tries to revitalise its economy
after a five-year slump.
The gaming group will continue aggressive pursuit of
opportunities in Asia after dropping the project in Madrid, it
said on Friday.
Spain's government said that it had rejected some of the
demands put forward by Las Vegas Sands, including guarantees of
compensation in the event of future legislative changes.
"New conditions were put forward concerning taxes and legal
protection ... which could not be taken on board by the
administrations involved," Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de
Santamaria said at a news conference after the weekly cabinet
"The government needs to preserve the general interests of
all Spaniards," she added.
The project, known as Eurovegas, had been slated to include
six casinos, 12 hotels and many shops, creating as many as
250,000 jobs and providing a welcome boost for a country in
which one in four of the workforce is unemployed.
But it had run into various delays and obstacles in recent
Las Vegas Sands Chief Executive Sheldon Adelson had also
been pushing for an exemption from a national smoking ban,
putting Madrid's local politicians at odds with central
government legislation as they tried to get the project going.
Spain's capital city had already suffered a blow this year
when its bid to host the Olympic Games failed for the third time
in a row.
The Olympics and the Eurovegas project had been hailed by
politicians as motors of a recovery in Madrid, which has
experienced rolling public sector strikes after deep spending
cuts and has failed to capitalise on a rise in tourism to Spain
Visitors to the Madrid region fell by about a fifth in
August from a year earlier, while Catalonia, home to the more
popular seaside city of Barcelona, recorded a 12 percent