Sheldon Adelson Folds on a Casino Project (New Yorker.com)
The puns practically wrote themselves, last week, when headlines announced that the billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson had folded on a years-long bet to build a mega-casino in Spain. Dubbed EuroVegas, it was supposed to be Adelson’s foothold on the Continent: a thirty-billion-dollar venture, replete with twelve hotels, nine theatres, six casinos, and three golf courses.
A year earlier, Adelson had chosen Madrid as the sunny, temperate hub for his European incursion. He’s had a captive audience ever since. Presiding over a wobbly economy and an unemployment rate of around twenty-five per cent, the Spanish government was desperate for any large-scale investment, let alone one as immense as Adelson’s. The project’s gaudy name provoked derision, even revulsion, in some quarters in Spain. And Adelson’s reputation preceded him: his political influence extends far beyond the United States’ borders, as Connie Bruck wrote in a 2008 Profile. Still, the gambit would create jobs—two hundred and sixty thousand of them, according to projections commissioned by Las Vegas Sands, Adelson’s company. In austerity-riven southern Europe, the mere promise of job creation is a political boon. Adelson felt that Spain’s high unemployment would ensure the government’s support. All the Spaniards had to do was give Adelson what he wanted.
What did Adelson want? In a word: everything . . .