Mitt Romney's backer to build huge £18bn 'EuroVegas' resort outside Madrid

Bishops fear Sheldon Adelson’s €22bn casino will lead poor Spaniards into gambling addiction

At a time when 26 per cent of Spaniards are unemployed, on paper it could hardly be better news: the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Madrid’s government selected the large dormitory town of Alcorcón for what is set to become Europe’s biggest casino resort.

Alcorcón’s mayor, David Pérez, said that the €22bn (£18bn) project dubbed “EuroVegas” will turn his town – which has 15,000 jobless amongst its 170,000 inhabitants – into “an unprecedented nexus of employment just at the moment that it is most needed”.

But EuroVegas has already created an unlikely alliance of opponents. Catholic bishops have warned of increased gambling addiction. Ecological associations have questioned the environment impact of the “strip”, which will be roughly triangular in shape with sides three kilometres long and contain at least 12 hotels and six casinos.

Soon after the announcement, the EuroVegas No Campaign announced a protest in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square, saying in a statement: “What guarantees do such supposed jobs have? Beyond these baseless claims, it is to be expected that EuroVegas is only beneficial for a privileged minority and will provoke irreversible environmental damage in the region.”

There can be no doubting the wealth of the Las Vegas Sands chairman, Sheldon Adelson. Ranked the 14th richest person in the world, he was a key backer of the failed bid for the US presidency by the Republican, Mitt Romney. But questions remain on where the money will come from to fund such a huge project. Las Vegas Sands will provide between 35 and 40 per cent of the funding, but the source for the remaining 65 per cent is unclear. The key issue for Spain is what it will do for its dole queues. Whilst Spanish daily El País has estimated that around 40,000 employees will be needed in the initial phase, final figures of up to a quarter of a million direct and indirect jobs have been touted - which would wipe out half of the  region of Madrid’s unemployment total at a stroke.

But opposition parties in Madrid’s regional parliament have vigorously questioned such figures as overly optimistic and have criticised the easing of building restrictions, which according to Socialist Party spokesman Jose Quintana, “wouldn’t have happened in a banana republic”. Building work on the project just south-west of Madrid should start at the end of this year. The initial phase is due to be finished by 2017, with the resort fully completed by 2023 at a reported cost of €22bn. EuroVegas is forecast to provide overnight hotel accommodation for up to 36,000 visitors. Each casino will be home to 18,000 slot machines.

While the resort is confined to a ground area about half the size of Las Vegas, there will be no upper skywards limit. A specially approved law in December has removed usual height restrictions for EuroVegas skyscrapers, as well as allowing for as yet unspecified tax breaks on winnings. Smoking bans, too, may be eased in some sectors of the project.

As for Alcorcón itself, prior to EuroVegas the town’s only claim to fame was in 2009 when its recently promoted  Second Division football side inflicted a stinging 4-0 knock-out defeat of Real Madrid in the country’s equivalent of the FA Cup.

Since then the expression “alcorconazo” has entered regional vernacular as slang for “pulling off Mission Impossible”. Whether Alcorcón now becomes a byword for “hitting the jackpot” employment-wise with their successful EuroVegas bid, remains  to be seen.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick