The future of Las Vegas Sands’ proposed EuroVegas resort-casino project is in jeopardy if Spain doesn’t relax its public smoking laws, according to Madrid’s regional president. Ignacio González says Spain’s central government needs to accommodate Sands’ request/demand for a smoking law exemption or else run the risk that the €17b EuroVegas project “will wind up elsewhere.”
González says the resort-casino, which is to be built in Madrid’s Alcorcón suburb, would be of benefit “not just for this region, but for the whole of Spain.” Spain’s economy has yet to recover from the 2008 global financial downturn, with unemployment rates as high as 26%. In November, Gonzalez made plain his desperation to boost the local economy by agreeing to reduce EuroVegas’ regional gaming tax from 45% to just 10% and the concession appears to have emboldened Sands’ boss Sheldon Adelson to dig in his heels on the smoking issue.
González has already offered to let EuroVegas customers smoke ‘em if they got ‘em, but the smoking law is a central government initiative. Earlier this month, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy offered a tepid defense of its smoking stance, saying the government had “not planned” to amend the law just for Sands. Shortly after that, El Pais reported that the government was drafting an amendment that would allow regional governments to grant exemptions to the law. On Wednesday, a ministry of health spokesperson said there were no law changes planned “at the moment … but we are always open to dialogue.”
The recent awarding of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games to Tokyo may have played a role in stiffening Sands’ resolve. Madrid was among the finalists for the 2020 Games, which would have guaranteed a certain level of extra tourism around the time that EuroVegas is/was expected to open. Socialist opposition leader Thomas Gomez suggested the loss of the Games had Sands pondering moving EuroVegas to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, but clearly, Gomez doesn’t read this site otherwise he wouldn’t be floating wild VietVegas theories.