The two new casinos that have succeeded Las Vegas Sands’ abandoned EuroVegas project in Madrid say they’re holding their own despite the country’s challenging economic climate.
Casino Gran Madrid, owned by Grupo Gran Madrid, and Casino Gran Via, owned by Grupo Comar, opened their doors just days after LVS announced in December that it will not pursue the $30 billion EuroVegas without a number of labor and financial and tax concessions and an exemption from a tough national anti-smoking law which the Spanish government refused to grant.
“The arrival of a giant like EuroVegas meant that we had to do something and couldn’t just stand still,” said Pedro Olmedo Franco, a director of Casino Gran Madrid. Without it, he said, “we probably wouldn’t be here now.”
Unlike some other Spanish cities, Madrid had a longstanding ban on any casino operating within an 18-mile radius of the city center. But it was effectively lifted when the city found itself competing against Barcelona to lure EuroVegas. Grupo Gran Madrid already had three casinos in Spain with combined revenues of €28 million. Grupo Comar has several casinos in Spain and the Dominican Republic which generated €110 million last year. The former spent €20 million to open Gran Madrid, the latter €15 million for Gran Via.
Neither operator said it could provide earnings details so close to their openings. Franco characterized Gran Madrid’s debut as “slightly weak” because of the Christmas season, while Javier García, general director of Grupo Comar, said he was “very satisfied” with Gran Vía and predicts it will turn a profit this year. The casino has recently averaged 1,500 visitors a day, each paying an entrance fee of €9 and required to bet a minimum of €2.5. García forecasted a profit for this year, without providing specifics.
The global downturn plunged Spain into a banking crisis that required a massive international bailout. The economy emerged from a two-year recession in the third quarter of last year but still faces serious challenges, including a 26 percent unemployment rate. The two casinos have made a modest contribution on that front.