Sheldon Adelson is a casino magnate who wants to build a “Mini Las Vegas” in Spain. He promises hundreds of thousands of jobs in a country where the official unemployment rate is currently over 20%. But he also wants Spanish money-laundering laws relaxed, he wants sizable tax breaks, and he wants the public sector to provide all the infrastructure required. He is weighing the pros and cons of situating his mini-Vegas either in Madrid or Barcelona, which of course, given the rivalry between these two metropolitan centres, means that he is pitting them against one another to see who will provide him with the most tax breaks, the best sites, the most modern infrastructure, and the juiciest incentives.
Let’s hope this project falls through, as did a similar proposal for a mini-Vegas in the Monegros Desert of Aragón. The construction of such a “city” would spell even more disaster for Spain, which has already overbuilt itself with urbanizations that sit empty now. If there’s anything that needs to be constructed in Spain, it is deconstructing its mistakes and reconstructing its historical neighborhoods that are in shambles. As Italian investigative author and mafia-expert Roberto Saviano tweeted recently: “Se la Catalogna approvasse il progetto Eurovegas (Las Vegas Europea), diverrebbe il centro di riciclaggio mafioso dell’Occidente.” (“If Catalonia were to approve the Euro Vegas project, it would become the mafia recycling centre of the western world.”) This is the last thing Spain could use right now: even more corruption than it has already.
Besides, the jobs would be crap, the amount of cocaine entering Spain would increase even more, and more Spanish households would be ruined. We already have enough vice in Spain to satisfy millions of tourists and locals alike. In fact, I would argue that the forms of vice already available in Spain are much more interesting than anything that could be imported from Las Vegas, one of the most boring and predictable places on earth. Like the USA in general, Las Vegas no longer offers any lessons to the rest of the world (with all due respect to Venturi, Scott-Brown and Izenour, and also Dave Hickey). It has had its day and is now passé.
“Metetelo por donde te quepa, Adelson.” (Take your proposal and shove it, Adelson.)