And the winner is… Alcorcón! The Madrid dormitory town on Friday was officially named as the site for US billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s controversial 750-hectare Eurovegas mega-casino complex.
Sheldon’s Las Vegas Sands chose Madrid over Barcelona for the project in September, but the actual area where it was to be built had not been decided on. Alcorcón, to the south of the capital, was preferred over the other suburban locations of Valdecarros, Torrejón de Ardoz and Paracuellos del Jarama.
Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands group will begin work on the first of three phases of the project this year, with the second to begin 18 months after the completion of the first. The whole project is due to be finished in 2017 at an investment of 6.75 billion euros, of which the US firm will put up between 35 and 45 percent. The rest will be funded by banks, of which at least one is expected to be Spanish.
The announcement was made at a news conference by Madrid regional premier Ignacio González with directors of Las Vegas Sands. González said a tender to acquire the land for the project would be opened in the spring. The land earmarked for the project currently does not have the necessary zoning category, but the Madrid administration is sure it can overcome that problem, the premier added.
The first phase alone will create 40,000 direct jobs and 80,000, while the whole project could generate about a quarter of a million direct and indirect jobs, according to the regional government.
Las Vegas Sands’ chief operating officer and president, Michael Leven, said the first phase would involve the construction of four resorts, each with 3,000 rooms, as well as commercial, convention and leisure centers. He said the company hires 10,000 people directly at its Singapore complex. The vast majority of employees at the Eurovegas complex will be Spanish, he added.
Leven said that Adelson, who did not attend the news conference, had been dreaming of making this project in Madrid a reality for the past 12 years.
“This is a special and very important day for Madrid and Spain,” González told reporters. “This is an exciting and extraordinary project, the objective of which is to make Madrid the chief center for conventions in southern Europe.”
The Madrid assembly passed a special law in October of last year in order to meet a series of demands from Adelson, particularly in terms of tax treatment. The tax rate on winnings from gaming was reduced from 40 percent to 10 percent for the project, while there will be no limit on the height of the towers to be built on the site.
“From the tax point of view almost everything has been resolved apart from a few changes on the part of the central government,” González said. The premier said minors would continue to be barred from gambling, the proceeds from which he calculated would represent only 17 percent of the estimated revenues generated by the project.
Adelson has also asked for Spain’s blanket ban on smoking in public places to be lifted on the casino site. “The smoking issue is also the responsibility of the central government,” González said. “It will be working on the issue, which will be resolved in the next few months,” he said.