It seems difficult to remember what the world was like before Sheldon Adelson emerged on the scene, handing out seven- and eight-figure checks to Republican candidates and birthing his own media ecosystem. As his influence has grown, the fascinations have spread far and wide (not even The Scroll has been immune!).
Today, NPR has a story about Adelson’s latest project in Spain dubbed “EuroVegas,” a veritable gambling metropolis planned for the outskirts of Madrid. By some estimates, EuroVegas may bring as many as 250,000 jobs to debt-ridden Spain, the country with Europe’s highest unemployment rate, as well as a solid increase in tourism.
But, according to NPR, the news is not all good:
Las Vegas Sands, Adelson’s company, says it’ll pay only 35 percent. Cash-strapped municipal authorities would somehow have to come up with the rest. Adelson’s company is also asking for tax breaks and exemptions from local labor laws — to bring in foreign workers and allow smoking inside casinos, despite a nationwide ban.
In this economy, Spain doesn’t exactly have much bargaining power. And some feel Adelson is taking advantage of that.
Carlos Ruiz is a retired engineer who volunteers with a group called “EuroVegas No.”
“Taking into account the very bad situation of Spain, he’s doing all kinds of blackmails,” he says.
Ruiz worries that with Europe’s highest jobless rate — 25 percent and double that for youth — Spain is willing to sell its soul for a few jobs. He says Spanish leaders have fallen for a get-rich-quick scheme.
“[A plan] that we think doesn’t create good jobs, stable jobs, that harms the environment, that harms the social relations, that ignores civil rights, that brings wealth only to the investors, not to the rest of society,” he says.
This isn’t the first story to cast doubt on EuroVegas. But it is surreal to see how Adelson’s ubiquity in realms beyond business affects the perception of the project.
For what they are worth, some of the comments on the NPR site reflect this:
Spain, don’t get sucked in. Unlike Americans, you take to the streets. This is a good reason; you almost can’t say enough negative things about Adelson.
And there’s this:
Dear Spain, Step away from the casino. Get out your strongest garlic and hold it steady between you and Sheldon Adelson. He has come to suck you dry. Stay awake. Do not sleep. You are a great country. Don’t sell your soul to this economic vampire.
What language! It’s only a matter of time before those really looking hard for the hallmarks of conspiracy find out about EuroVegas’ planned 36,000 hotel rooms, 18,000 slot machines, and three golf courses.