Billionaire drops plan for casino in Spain
Sheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate, on Friday abandoned his plans to build a $30 billion gambling and leisure resort on the outskirts of Madrid after failing to win financial concessions and other favors from the Spanish government.
The decision by Mr. Adelson?s company, Las Vegas Sands, to drop its EuroVegas resort project is an economic blow not just for Madrid but for Spain as a whole. The country has been pining for foreign investment to help revive its economy and cut its 26 percent unemployment rate.
Although Spain recently emerged from a two-year recession, it remains mired in stagnation, deeply troubled by low consumer spending and a domestic credit squeeze that lingers from the country?s housing bust and the subsequent banking bailout in 2012.
But while Mr. Adelson was openly welcomed by the government, several Spanish civic and religious groups, opposed to gambling, sought to block the EuroVegas project. Some critics warned the authorities against bending Spanish legislation to suit Mr. Adelson, by granting him special tax benefits as well as accepting his request to exempt EuroVegas from a nationwide ban on smoking in public spaces.
Political opponents of the governing Popular Party also argued against granting Sands any tax concessions.
With an?estimated net worth of $28.5 billion, the 80-year-old Mr. Adelson is one of the richest men in the world. The bulk of his wealth comes from the extravagant casino resorts he has developed in Las Vegas, the Venetian and the Palazzo; several built or redeveloped more recently in Macao, a former Portuguese colony that is now part of China; and one in Singapore.
Mr. Adelson, long a supporter of conservative causes, has been an active player in American politics. In the 2012 presidential election, he donated more than $60 million to his preferred candidates, first Newt Gingrich and then Mitt Romney, a sum that made him the single largest financial contributor in a presidential race.
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