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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Spain eyes Sands' legal issues as project advances

17 August 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Reports of various federal government investigations that have been launched against Las Vegas Sands Corp. have made their way to Spain, where the company plans to announce next month where it will build a $22 billion gaming destination.

The New York Times reported Thursday that officials in Barcelona want Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson to appear before the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona to explain his company's legal issues.

The company's business dealings in China are reportedly being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Jaume Bosch, a lawmaker from the Catalan Green Party, told the Times in Madrid that Spanish authorities had recently welcomed Adelson "like a head of state, while the most powerful countries in the world have placed him under suspicion."

A spokesman for Las Vegas Sands wouldn't comment on the request. Adelson and Las Vegas Sands executives have made several trips to Spain in the past year.

The Catalan Green Party is considered a minor player in Spain's political system.

Las Vegas Sands is trying to determine if it will build "EuroVegas" in Madrid or Barcelona, which has created a bidding battle over where to locate the development.

Opposition has formed in both cities, however.

Las Vegas Sands has asked for concessions from the Spanish government for the project, including some tax exemptions, as well as an easing of restrictions on smoking in public spaces.

Initial plans for "EuroVegas" call for 12 hotels encompassing 36,000 rooms, six casinos with 18,000 slot machines and three golf courses. Las Vegas Sands would hope to begin construction next year. The development would take 10 years to complete.

Las Vegas Sands President Michael Leven said last month the company hoped to decide between Madrid and Barcelona by September.