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. 

A few years ago Hungary seemed the slightly surprising location for some of the first big casino resorts in Europe. There were grand plans for the likes of Dream Island, Kings City, and EuroVegas. But a change of government and financing issues saw the first two projects shelved. EuroVegas is much delayed but is still alive.
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. 
The Republic of Cyprus is another country that is proposing to overturn a ban on casinos as it seeks to extricate itself from the financial mire. The previous administration had previously refused to consider legislation introducing land-based casinos with President Christofias publicly stating in 2009: “There will be no casinos in Cyprus while I am the president. Casinos are an expression of corruption and can create a crisis of the system. My party (AKEL – the Communist Party) has struggled for years against any establishment of casinos…”.
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. 
GBGC Director Lorien Pilling commented: “The fact that some European politicians are willing to change completely their position on casinos is evidence of the just how severe the economic problem is in the EU. In usual circumstances there are few votes to be won in permitting or expanding gambling.” 
But if new casinos do help the recovery in these countries the UK government will be kicking itself. Under former Prime Minister Gordon Brown it had the chance to create a regional ‘super’ casino back in 2007 but chose not to press ahead with it for largely political reasons. The jobs, investment and tax revenues would have been most welcome; especially as the new casino would likely have been completed in 2012/2013 had construction begun in 2010.