If Sheldon Adelson gets his way, the U.S. magnate who has made his fortune developing hotels and casinos in Nevada will make his mark in Spain, where he wants to build “Eurovegas,” a “sin city” for the continent. Madrid and Barcelona are currently bidding for the $23-billion project, which includes six casinos, three golf courses, a convention centre and 12 hotels with a total 36,000 rooms. “The project will generate employment and wealth—which we’re lacking,” says José Luis Villena, a spokesman for the Madrid government.
His enthusiasm clashes with evidence that the Las Vegas economic model has collapsed. The city was one of the hardest hit by the global downturn. Between 2008 and 2012, 100,000 jobs were lost, most of them in the construction industry; unemployment is 12 per cent, four percentage points above the national rate; one in 16 properties are in foreclosure. But these tales of woe are not deterring cash-strapped politicians in Spain; the country is being touted as the next Greece as its economy continues to sag and its debt grows. Politicians appear in desperate need of a quick, and flashy, shortcut to money and jobs.