Fear & Loathing in EuroVegas
THIS JUST IN! Read all about it HERE!!
For more on Eurovegas, click here to read the Memo to Adelson.
It is only fitting that casino mogul Adelson’s pharaonic EuroVegas (EV) project should be the first to enter post-crisis Spain in a big way. This is exactly the kind of international projects we can expect to see sprouting from the ruins of the Spanish economy: theme parks for the filthy rich to “stimulate the economy and create employment” by gambling, drinking, getting laid and maybe leaving a tip for Manuel, the hapless waiter from Barcelona.
These are vulture enterprises, specialized in creating islands of depravity in places where the economic situation makes for an endless supply of cheap bodies for the use & abuse of the international scumbags that frequent this kind of joint. Think Cuba under Batista, when the entire island was a CIA-sponsored corrupt whorehouse, but without Fidel hiding in the hills.
While the final verdict between Barcelona and Madrid is still not public, many people in Barcelona are rooting that it go to Madrid, just to have it as far away as possible. But the location offered by Barcelona –with its own piece of Mediterranean beachfront right next to the airport– may prove too tempting for Adelson and his ilk, who would like to park their yatchs at the door. So we must prepare for the very real chance that this gargantuan monument to all that is garish & false will finally end up blotting the landscape at our doorstep.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not moralizing here. Any reasonably street smart tourist knows you don’t have to go very far in Barcelona to gamble, get high, ripped off and/or laid when the Gaudí gets rough. Way before becoming a global tourist destination, Barcelona was and has always been a port city with all the amenities demanded by sailors merchant and military. Some still remember when the US Navy 6th Fleet used to dock in the city, to the general excitement in the red light district when the horny americanos hit town with their camel cigarrettes, zippo lighters and crisp dollar bills.
So there’s no use playing coy. Today Barcelona is as full of gamblers, hookers, con artists, grifters, dealers and low lives as any self-respecting modern metropolis can aspire to. The issue is whether we even need EV at all… what does it give us we don’t have already? The official mantra of “investment and employment” rings less than solid when the small print regarding the tax breaks and hiring policies is filtered from the negotiations to soften public opinion to the naked truth: the list of demands attached to the EV project are every bit as pharaonic as the promised investment, and some of them are downright shady to say the least.
Adelson and his cohorts play their cards well. First they chose to pit Madrid against Barcelona, knowing full well the old rivalry between these cities would ensure each one went out of its way to outdo the other. Second, they mixed their outrageous demands among others even more outrageous, allowing the authorities to pretend to have a backbone by denying the latter while approving the former. Secret negotiations are still underway, but the project’s big numbers and some of the special demands have been filtered to the press.
With an approximate investment of 15 thousand million euros over ten years, the EV complex foresees a grand total of 12 hotels with 36 thousand rooms, six casinos with over one thousand tables and 15 thousand slot machines, three golf courses, nine theatres and an auditorium with 15 thousand seats, among other facilities. All in all, 150 thousand jobs are expected to be created.
Concommitant to these lavish numbers, however, are several conditions which directly contravene current Spanish law in regard to taxes, labor rights, immigration and more, including:
- 2 years exemption from paying employee social security quotas
- 2 years exemption from local, state and regional taxes
- Concession of public terrain, with exclusivity and tax exemptions
- No unions
- Legal facilities to bring in foreign labor
- Flexibility in the control of money laundering
- Authorizing the access of underage persons
- Lifting the smoking ban
- Authorizing the access of legally recognized ludopaths
Considering the tax exemptions as standard in this kind of investment project, if I had to guess about the others I’d say the underage and ludopath issues are red herrings, the unions and smoking issues are borderline, the foreign labor issue has some weight, but it is the “flexibility” in money laundering supervision that is the real motherlode condition. Without some guarantee the tax man won’t come snooping around, it will be next to impossible to convince the big players to come lose their hard-stole money in an entertaining & fiscally-convenient fashion in sunny downtown EuroVegas.
40 years ago Hunter S. Thompson went searching for the American Dream in Las Vegas with his crazy attorney and a car trunk full of varied mind-altering substances. Through the unfiltered lens of drug-induced craziness, however, the glitzy dream glam fell apart to reveal a dark underside of reptilian fauna populating the hot Vegas Sands. Many people were like, duh, what do you expect from a guy who drops acid as part of his work routine? And while it is true that HST went to great and often painful lengths to break free from the confines of square perception –he was, after all, the Duke of Gonzo, Commander Supreme of States Twisted– this actually tends to validate his visions rather than discredit them. Experience is a degree, after all.
Of course, seen from today’s perspective, his mad visions in the Nevada desert seem to fit in a much bigger picture that has emerged through the power of the internet. What seemed like far-out drug-addled craziness four decades ago now seems like totally reasonable drug-addled craziness, which only comes to prove how far we’ve come in terms of awareness, or craziness, or both.
Thanks to him, we know the kind of place EuroVegas hails from, and its house rule number one: anything goes for the right price, but the Fear & Loathing is on the house. Place your bets… gentlemen?