Las Vegas Sands Corp. said Friday it had canceled plans to build a massive casino and hotel complex known as Eurovegas after officials here rejected what the Spanish government sees as U.S. tycoon Sheldon Adelson's "unacceptable" demands.
Spain's deputy prime minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, said Adelson's demands, including guarantees against future regulatory shifts affecting the mega-complex or promises of compensation in the event of any such changes, had no legal basis in Spanish or European Union law and therefore could not be met.
Adelson chose the town of Alcorcon, outside Madrid, as the site for his $30 billion complex of casinos, hotels and business and convention centers.
The project had been stalled for several months as Adelson, who owns casinos in Las Vegas and Asia, increased his demands on Spanish authorities.
Eurovegas sparked competition between Madrid and Barcelona and enjoyed enthusiastic backing from many in Spain who said it would help alleviate sky-high unemployment.
But it also generated controversy from the outset, with detractors such as the "Eurovegas No" platform of civil organizations, trade unions and private citizens fearing the complex would be a breeding ground for crime and exist as a "state-within-a-state in which tax, labor and environmental regulations are disregarded."
One of the most controversial aspects of the project was Adelson's demand that the casino complex be exempt from a 2011 ban in Spain on smoking in public spaces.
On Friday, Adelson threw in the towel after authorities refused to meet his conditions.
"(W)e do not see a path in which the criteria needed to move forward with this large-scale development can be reached. As a result we will no longer be pursuing this opportunity," Las Vegas Sands' chairman and chief executive said in a statement.
"Developing integrated resorts in Europe has been a vision of mine for years, but there is a time and place for everything and right now our focus is on encouraging Asian countries, like Japan and Korea, to dramatically enhance their tourism offering through the development of integrated resorts there," Adelson said.
Companies in Madrid's tourism and hotel sector lamented the scrapping of the mega-resort project while the regional government, which estimated that the proposed complex could have created up to 200,000 jobs, expressed similar sentiments.
But the project's cancelation was well received by the Spanish left and labor unions, which had criticized the initiative as one that would not contribute to building a productive fabric. EFE