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Spain

Europe's biggest gambling complex to go ahead

US construction company Las Vegas Sands has confirmed it will start building Europe's largest gambling and leisure center in Spain before the end of the year. Critics have voiced a wide range of objections.

US firm Las Vegas Sands said on Friday it would go ahead with the construction of a vast casino project near Madrid, with the government claiming the complex could create at least 200,000 jobs in a country with record-high unemployment.

The US company run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson said it would build the huge gambling and leisure compound on 750 hectares (1,850 acres) of land in Alcorcon some 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) southwest of the Spanish capital.

"We expect to launch the first rock at the end of the year," regional government chief Ignacio Gonzales told a news conference.

Controversial scheme

The "EuroVegas" complex comprises the construction of four casinos with 12 hotels providing 36,000 rooms, nine theaters, three golf courses and convention centers over a period of 10 to 15 years.

Gonzalez announced the initial of the project would be completed by 2017, with casinos and shopping centers to be built first.

Madrid authorities had come under criticism for granting Adelson tax exemptions and relaxed regulations concerning gambling offences. Opponents argued taxpayers' money would be used for a private project while Spaniards were suffering from public cuts. Critics also feared the casinos would attract criminals and prostitutes.

hg/pfd (AFP, dpa)