€30-billion Eurovegas casino project scrapped

Spain's plans for a gambling-fuelled exit from its economic crisis have been thwarted after the US group behind the Eurovegas mega-casino project in Madrid decided to pull out on Friday.

€30-billion Eurovegas casino project scrapped
Photo: Thebarrowboy/Flickr

US casino operator Las Vegas Sands said Friday it has dropped plans to invest over $30 billion (€21.8 billion) in a mega-resort scheme that promised 260,000 direct and indirect jobs for crisis-hit Spain.

The company, owned by US billionaire Sheldon Adelson, said it would "continue aggressive pursuit of opportunities in Asia" where it already operates properties in Singapore and Macao.

"Developing integrated resorts in Europe has been a vision of mine for years, but there is a time and place for everything," Adelson said in a statement.

"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," he added.

Las Vegas Sands, the world's biggest casino company by market value, said in February it had chosen Alcorcon, a suburb of Madrid, as the site for what would have been Europe's largest resort.

The "Eurovegas" project called for the construction of four casino complexes with 12 hotels providing 36,000 rooms, nine theatres, three golf courses, and convention centres over a period of 10–15 years.

The project was welcomed by Spain's centre-right government in a country grappling with a jobless rate of 26 percent.

But opponents, which included the Roman Catholic Church and members of Spain's "indignant" movement against social equality, complained that the casinos would spawn prostitution and crime.

SEE ALSO: The Local's opinion piece on the Eurovegas mega-casino project.

They also argued the project would mark a return to the excesses of Spain's property bubble, which imploded in 2008 triggering a double-dip recession.

Adelson had been pressuring the government to exempt the projects from the country's anti-tobacco law, one of the strictest in Europe, but this had been fiercely opposed by anti-smoking campaigners.

Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and The Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. It also operates properties in Macao.

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Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.