Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson is dangling a huge carrot in Spain in the form of Eurovegas. But first, he wants gamblers to be able to smoke inside the complex, something that’s currently against health laws in the country.
According to The Guardian, Adelson paid a visit to Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, earlier this week in Madrid to discuss his proposals for the ginormous project.
Eurovegas is massive, to say the least. It’s also important for the Spanish economy, which is currently in the middle of a horrendous economic crisis where the unemployment rate is expected to hit 28 percent by the end of the year. With the prospect of 10,000 employment opportunities in the short term, it’s no secret that Spain could use those jobs.
But there’s a caveat: Adelson wants gamblers to be allowed to smoke inside the complex, which is currently forbidden after a law introduced by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s socialist government two years ago outlawed smoking inside public places.
Despite the current economic plight they are in, citizens are holding firm on their position to not let the government acquiesce to Adelson’s demands, so much so that there’s even a petition on change.org asking the government to leave the existing laws as is. “We Spaniards do not want the tobacco law changed,” the petition said. “We cannot allow a good law to be changed so that Mr Adelson can earn more money while Spain becomes poorer.”
While it’s admirable that the people are standing up for what they believe in, it also comes at the risk of losing out on huge employment opportunities, something the country is in dire need of these days. The prime minister has yet to decide on the issue, anyway, and it even appears that Adelson himself believes that the government won’t cave in to his request.
According to Spanish news agency EFE, Adelson was quoted telling journalists in Jerusalem earlier in the week that he didn’t think the Rajoy would acquiesce to change the existing law for his benefit. Whether he really means that or it’s just another PR ploy remains to be seen.
Don’t be surprised, though, if the casino mogul gets his wish. After all, it won’t be the first time that his strong-arming has led to concessions from the Spanish government.
Late last year, Madrid mayor Ignacio Gonzales significantly slashed regional gaming tax on brick and mortar casinos from 45% to 10% in part as a condition made by Adelson for locating EuroVegas in the region.
Besides, it’s not like the LVS big boss is building just one casino; this massive project is expected to include as many as 12 resorts, nine theaters, six casinos, three golf course, and even a sports stadiums with the potential to create as many as 250,000 direct and indirect jobs when everything’s set and running.
And if there’s one thing Madrid – and Spain, for that matter – needs these days, it’s jobs.