Madrid is pushing Spain’s central government to grant EuroVegas an exemption to the country’s ban on smoking in public, which developer Las Vegas Sands has set as a condition for going ahead with the project.
Madrid desperately needs the jobs and economic development the multibillion-dollar resort complex promises. Slated to be built just outside the city, its plans call for up to six casinos, 12 hotels and an array of entertainment and leisure attractions.
“We must do everything in our power to prevent a deal like EuroVegas slipping through our fingers,” Madrid President Ignacio Gonzalez said.
The central government, however, faces significant popular opposition to waiving the law, which came into force in January 2011 and prevents smoking in all public places, including restaurants, bars and casinos. Health Minister Ana Mato said the government has to protect the health of its citizens, although she added that it was also a government priority to create jobs, since Spain has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe.