A casino complex outside of Madrid continues to raise a furor. Supporters say it attract rich tourists and create jobs. But critics say 'Eurovegas' won't solve the underlying problems of Spain's economic crisis.
Local Spanish politicians and US investors want to build a gambling complex they've dubbed "Eurovegas" in Alcorcon, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) from Madrid.
A gleaming and glittery mini-Las Vegas for Europe will, supporters have said, be like a money maker for the economically hard-hit region's government, residents and businesses - as well as for the foreign investors set to build it.
Plans call for 12 hotel complexes with a total of 36,000 rooms. The six casinos will be outfitted with at least 1,000 roulette tables and 18,000 slot machines. There will also be a theater, at least one golf course and 15,000-seat stadium.
Predictions for the total cost come in at 17 billion euros ($22 billion) and some 250,000 jobs are expected to be created.
"We are talking about creating some 20,000 jobs in the initial construction phase alone," Alcorcon Mayor David Perez, told DW. "In the next phase, the number of jobs will be 10 times higher when the entire complex is operating."
Construction boom caused Spain's crisis
But not everyone is excited about the casino coming to town. Critics, including Madrid residents and Spanish environmental protection groups, have called for the casino's construction to be stopped.
Spain cannot afford another huge construction project of "Pharaonic proportions" after watching a real estate bubble burst and drag the Spanish economy into a debt crisis, said Ana Revuelta, a spokeswoman for the group Eurovegas No.
"Our main criticism of the project is that it shows that we are not giving up the economic model that brought us into this crisis to begin with," she said, adding that such unsustainable economic projects will worsen the crisis.
Revuelta also said a lack of transparency on the part of the project's American investors, billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and the regional government.
Citizens have not been sufficiently informed about plans for the resort, which Las Vegas Sands has said will cover between 25 and 30 percent of the proposed development's costs with banks and capital markets covering the rest.
Some local construction companies and craftspeople have expressed their support for the project.
"Of course, it would be great if the project would come," said Jose Antonio, who sells construction material. "With all the unemployment here, we need the jobs. Some life would finally come back to the construction sector."
Years of construction
If plans for Eurovegas go through, Las Vegas Sands said in a September statement was in the very early stages, it will be years until construction starts. Construction may start in 2016 with the resort opening in as early as 2022.
If it's built, Eurovegas would be a prestige object for a corporation with a major presence in Las Vegas as well as Macau, the world's largest casino hub.
"We will create tax revenue and jobs," Las Vegas Sands President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Leven said. "We will attract tourism, the event business and more."
Revuelta, however, said she doesn't believe such predictions. Calculations made by Eurovegas No showed only 20 percent of the announced jobs would be created - and that most of them would only be during the construction phase.
When it's operating, the resort would need unskilled workers who would enjoy little job security, Revuelta said, adding that Las Vegas Sands does not hire union workers.
"Employees in its branches in Singapore and Macau do not have the same rights and guarantees that Spanish employees have a right to," she said.