Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is planning to spend $35 billion on a mini Las Vegas strip in Spain. Speaking to press before the opening of his new $4 billion casino property in Macau, the world’s largest casino destination, Adelson said, “We are looking at 12 integrated resorts, 3,000 rooms each. A mini-Las Vegas, about half the size of the Las Vegas strip in Spain for the European market.”
Each resort would cost between $2.5 billion and $3 billion, and target customers from western and eastern Europe. In addition to the hotels and casinos, Adelson’s attempt to replicate Sin City will also boast several golf courses.
Although Adelson did not address the debt crisis that has gripped Europe, he said the Spanish project would take between five and ten years to complete, by which time he expected demand to have picked up significantly. Adelson’s company says the project will generate, directly or indirectly, 260,000 jobs.
While the deal – dubbed “EuroVegas” – may bring as many as tens of thousands of construction jobs to a country suffering 25% unemployment, it has provoked outrage among an unlikely coalition of opponents, including local Catholic bishops and the indignado protest movement. Local bishops have warned that the complex will bring gambling addiction, bankruptcies and suicides.
In addition to his plans for Spain, Adelson also has expansion plans in Asia, particularly in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. “We are looking to build two each in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Taiwan is late in catching up. There is pending legislation in the other three countries,” he said.
With a net worth estimated at $25 billion according to Forbes, Adelson is one of the world’s richest men. He has often been a target of the mainstream liberal media due to lending his significant financial support to Republican causes (Rolling Stone magazine went so far as to call him “a danger to the republic”). He was a staunch backer of New Gingrich’s campaign for president, spending more than $16 million funding the pro-Gingrich Super PAC “Winning the Future.” When it seemed clear Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee for president, Adelson threw his support behind the former Massachusetts governor, with a $10 million donation to the pro-Romney “Restore Our Future” Super PAC.
Despite all of the press Adelson receives for donating money to Republican politicians, he actually donates significantly more to charity. Adelson’s wife Miriam, an Israeli physician specializing in drug abuse treatment, is always there to give input into what philanthropic causes her husband should support. Among the organizations who have benefited from their generosity are Taglit-Birthright Israel, which offers ten-day trips to Israel to Jewish adults between 18 and 26, to whom they have donated more than $100 million since 2007. In addition, they have given $25 million to the Holocaust memorial organization Yad Vashem; $25 million to a Jewish high school in Summerlin, Nevada; and $5 million to a Jewish elementary and middle school in Newton, Massachusetts.
“We selected Spain to be the location of our European strip number one, primarily because of the weather,” Adelson told reporters last year. “And second point is that unemployment in Spain is significant and assures us the support of the government.”