Las Vegas Sands has canceled plans for a US$30 billion gaming resort complex in Madrid, saying the development was no longer in the best interests of its shareholders.
EuroVegas, as it was called, was to include 12 hotels, six casinos, a convention center, golf courses, theaters and entertainment facilities, theme parks, shopping malls, bars and restaurants. Both the national and local governments viewed it as a development windfall, promising hundreds of thousands of jobs in a flagging Spanish economy where unemployment tops 20%. But the project generated considerable grassroots opposition from the start, mainly over the conditions LVS attached to it. These included a relaxation of the country’s ban on smoking and a freer corporate hand in dealing with labor.
“That process has been extremely thorough, and while the government and many others have worked diligently on this effort, we do not see a path in which the criteria needed to move forward with this large-scale development can be reached,” said Chairman Sheldon Adelson.
In a statement, the company said it would concentrate on development opportunities in Asia, where it generates about 80% of its annual revenues and cash flows from six casinos in Macau and Singapore. The company also operates two resort casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and a casino in the US state of Pennsylvania.
“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,” Mr Adelson said.
EuroVegas was first announced in September 2011, but most of the last two years was taken up in deciding whether to place it in Madrid or Barcelona.
Analysts mostly were skeptical of the prospects and say the reversal shouldn’t come as a surprise to investors.