Sunday, April 29, 2012

The EuroVegas Threat

Playboy Club Sands Macao, owned by Sheldon Adelson

For those following the negotiations for the building of EuroVegas, a  multi-casino-and-hotel complex in Madrid or Barcelona, the April 9th issue of The New Yorker has a profile of Sheldon Adelson, the casino operator who hatched the deal. The article portrays the emergence of Macao as the world's biggest gambling capital, feeding off the booming Chinese economy and dethroning Las Vegas, which has been hard-hit by the ongoing American economic slump.

This weekend, Madrid's Club de Dedates Urbanos (Urban Debates Club) put the propsoal on the table for public discussion. A three-hour video of the first day is available on their web page here.

I won't go into all the details of the negotiations, which have been widely covered in the press. Articles on the subject are collected on a special page at El País: EuroVegas.

I find it hard to believe that politicians are taking this seriously, and  everyone else is taking it so calmly. But I also find it hard to believe that the proposal will actually get anywhere. It stinks like a sure-fire failure -- or an outright ripoff of public funds with the collusion of gullible public authorities, always ready to lower their trousers when a wad of bills gets waved under their noses.

Manuel Vicente offered a biting critique of the spectacle a couple of weeks ago in his Sunday column in El País on April 15th:
"…the forces of greed are once again prepared to introduce another damaging virus into this country. It's called Eurovegas, by Sheldon Adelson, a dude who takes Spaniards for idiots. In the middle of the economic crisis this macaroni promises us casinos, roulette wheels, whores, gangsters and skyscrapers in middle of the wasteland, as long as politicians, in exchange for hypothetical jobs, are prepared to lower their pants. This surfer dude carries a plague, similar to that of the red palm weevil, and he demands the same advantages enjoyed by this bug: nothing about controls, so he can nest at his ease, like a boil on the neck of future speculators, who, once they've filled their sacks,  will leave this desert of brick to the mercy of the foxes and lizards." (Translation by DC)

Added June 5, 2012 
Sign a petition for government disclosure of negotiations over EuroVegas organized by Thanks, José Selgas. 


  1. Perhaps this would be a real upgrade for some stretches of the Costa del Sol, both architecturally and aso in the four limbed mammals that we use for scale.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      Sheldon Adelson would find a lot more of the new-rich clients he needs to feed into his monster casinos in a place like Marbella.

      But I don't know why he doesn't just move a little closer to the action in the former Eastern Block and Soviet Union, which would also be closer to Arab oil: how about Odessa, on the Black Sea? His Macao experience, according to The New Yorker article, shows he's already adept at dealing with mobsters of all types.

      I just don't see them coming to Madrid. Barcelona? Maybe. But on the beach. A newer, bigger, better Monaco. With towers by all those Catalan gentleman on the municipal list of city-approved architects. I can see someone like Tusquets or Bofill getting into the spirit of things. Right there on the beach at Llobregrat, where GATEPAC's City of Repose was supposed to go.

      It'll be a new Olympic orgasmatronic five-year plan of Catalan exertion and triumphant overcoming. Trade in a supposed subservience to Madrid for service to the mob.

      In Madrid, it would just be another theme park lost in the hills, another Warner Brothers Loony Tunes in the landscape of the Caballero de la Triste Figura.

      I can hardly wait.

  2. The Ghost of Aristotle (Onassis)May 1, 2012 at 3:09 AM

    Adelson is a smart man. The Chinese love to gamble, hence Macau. Las Vegas is now a family vacation destination.

    Anywhere on the Mediterranean coast of Spain would be a perfect fit. Year-round warm, mostly dry weather, like Nevada. Vacationers. Late night culture. Isolated enough from the rest of Spain to limit the cultural impact.

    The Spaniards better come to their senses and look forward than backwards before the Greeks or Italians take the bait.

    What's the harm in replacing Torremolinos with Las Vegas? Think of all the money I would have made from a new cruise ship destination!!

  3. If I were a chronically unemployed young Spaniard, facing a future of expatriation, I would certainly entrust Sheldon Adelson with spurring my country's economic recovery instead of Herman Van Rompuy.

    1. Given a better world and a larger sense of vision and purpose in human endeavor (why not?), all the public money that would go into this project could surely be invested in ventures that would help build a better future for everyone. How about all the money they are cutting from scientific research here in Spain, for example? Or better promoting Spain's capacities in solar and wind power technology, agriculture, etc. etc.

      New-rich vulgarity and corruption does a pretty good job of taking care of itself, and doesn't need this kind of public babying.

      The job situation is horrendous, but smart and energetic kids finding work in Germany aren't too different from those in the US who move to find work where work is to be found. That's supposedly one of the ideas of the European Union.

      On the lack of vision, there was an interesting comment on the increasing interest in Catalan independence by Isabel Marti, a small press editor, quoted in El Pais. She said, "Young people are especially interested, because the independence movement is one of the few isms that allows one to think of the possibility of a different world."

      We need to imagine --and invest in-- different worlds that are better than those offered by Sheldon Adelson or Angela Merkel.

      Quote: El País, April 28, 2012:

  4. If the Spanish had any common sense, instead of tilting at windmills, they would "invest" in a new passenger rail line along the entire Mediterranean coast, put a potential Las Vegas in one of coastal cities (like Torremolinos)built up in the 70s, and now desperately in need of a facelift, and extend the AVE from Madrid to that location.

    The facelift and rail provide immediate work for the sector most impacted by the current downturn. Then, the cash flow from Las Vegas is reinvested in hospitals, science, and windmills, as it was in Nevada.

    Now that my Presidential campaign is suspended, I will gladly volunteer my time and efforts to promote the endeavor, even wearing a Don Quixote outfit and carrying a lance, if that's what it takes, to shake the Spanish out of their stupor and realize what a great guy my friend Sheldon is.

  5. Let me tell you a dirty little secret. Europeans who have been there, LOVE Las Vegas. Without exception.

    If you don't do this, all I can say is, Spain, you're fired!

    1. Yes everyone loves Vegas. Who are you guys?

  6. I've closed comments on this post for now. Too many wise guys out there giving me the shuffle.