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Spanish mega-casino project runs into opposition

A citizens group which opposes plans by a US gaming giant to build a Las Vegas-style casino strip in Spain that promises to create over 250,000 jobs was unveiled Wednesday in Madrid.

Las Vegas Sands chief Sheldon Adelson is in talks with officials in Spain’s two biggest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, to build the complex of casinos, hotels and golf courses which has been dubbed “Eurovegas”.

The project reportedly will involve investments worth up to 18.8 billion euros ($24.5 billion) would create 261,000 direct and indirect jobs in a country with a jobless rate of just under 23 percent, the highest in the developed world.

But the citizens group which was presented Wednesday under the slogan “Eurovegas No” argues the project will create mainly low-skill jobs and attract sex workers.

“We are going to become a nation of waiters and prostitutes,” said one of the organisers of the group, Carlos Ruiz.

Local officials in Barcelona and Madrid are reportedly offering tax breaks, gambling law changes and free land to lure Adelson’s project.

“More than half of the residents of Madrid who are out of work could find jobs” if the project goes forward, the president of the regional government of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, said last month.

According to the leading daily El Pais, Las Vegas Sands presented a plan to invest 15.0-18.8 billion euros in the complex up to 2022, claiming it would create 164,000 direct and 97,000 indirect jobs.

The paper said the scheme includes 12 resorts with 36,000 rooms in total, six casinos with 1,065 tables, 18,000 slot machines, nine theatres, three golf courses and a 15,000-seat stage.

“The talks with the different levels of government are very advanced,” Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ronald Reese told Spanish public television TVE last week.