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Plug pulled on 'EuroVegas' casino in Spain

By Al Goodman, CNN
updated 11:20 AM EST, Fri December 13, 2013
  • Las Vegas Sands Corp. cancels plans for multibillion dollar casino and hotel complex
  • Reports: Company and Spanish government faced variety of hurdles negotiating deal
  • Officials touted casino project would create 250,000 jobs when it was originally announced

Madrid (CNN) -- The big bet is off.

The Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced Friday its planned, multibillion dollar casino and hotel complex that Spaniards called "EuroVegas" has been canceled.

"We don't see a path that leads to getting the necessary criteria to move this large-scale development forward. As a result, we will no longer pursue this opportunity," said Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson, the American billionaire political activist, in a statement.

The project was officially unveiled to much fanfare in February, and Spanish government officials appeared receptive to the promise of tens of thousands of jobs to build and later operate the casino and hotels, to help get Spain back on its feet economically. It had been scheduled to open in 2017 in a Madrid suburb.

Opponents all along said the Vegas-style resort would create only low-skilled and low-paying jobs -- not the development model needed for Spain, and they also seemed concerned the resort would attract organized crime.

In February, Las Vegas Sands said it would finance $3.6 billion, or 40%, of the cost of the first phase of the operation, including 12,000 hotel rooms, but would need financing from banks for the rest.

A Las Vegas Sands spokeswoman said at the time the entire $22 billion project, when completed over 20 years, could create 250,000 jobs.

But media reports since then have indicated a variety of hurdles as Las Vegas Sands and the government negotiated potential terms for the deal.

Last month, a Madrid government regional official announced the planned groundbreaking for late this year had been delayed until early 2014, the state-run news agency EFE reported.

On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said that Las Vegas Sands had made demands regarding tax issues and other conditions that couldn't be met under Spanish and European Union law.

Las Vegas Sands will continue its "intense search for opportunities in Asia," the company said.

Adelson has built the company into a leading global developer of gambling, entertainment and convention resorts. It owns the Venetian and the Palazzo gambling resorts in Las Vegas and has expanded into Asian markets, including resorts in Singapore and Macau.