Governments across Europe are betting the house on new casinos to help boost the economic recovery in their respective countries.
In Ireland the new Gambling Control Bill will permit 40 small casinos, which will have no more than 15 gaming tables. Ireland does not currently have any ‘proper’ casinos, so the addition of 40 gaming properties will be quite a revolution to the gambling sector in the country. ‘Super casinos’, however, have been excluded from the new regulation.
Moving east from Ireland, Las Vegas Sands is planning a casino resort in Spain on a scale not seen in Europe before. If completed as planned on the site near Madrid, Europa Vegas will involve EUR 26 billion worth of investment and includes six casinos, three golf courses, 12 hotels (with 36,000 rooms) and will be as big as half of the entire Las Vegas Strip. A second, similar casino resort is also being proposed for Barcelona. Grupo Veremonte intends Barcelona World will be the biggest entertainment centre in Europe and a rival for Europa Vegas. Estimates are that the two projects could employ a total of 180,000 people. The jobs would be most welcome when youth unemployment is reported at more than 50% in Spain.
The Hungarian government, however, appears to be reviving the plans for casinos. In July 2013 there were reports that the government plans to run 10 closed tenders for casino projects in cities outside of the capital Budapest. The government sees the casinos as a way of generating revenues from the tenders and the subsequent gaming taxes.
But in October 2011 the Cypriot government undertook quite a dramatic reversal of policy and announced that it was planning to draw up legislation to allow casinos in Cyprus. What changed the government’s attitude is the dire situation of the Cypriot economy. In early 2013, under new President Nicos Anastasiades, the Ministry of Justice and Public Order drafted a bill for the operation of casinos in the southern part of Cyprus.