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Spain – Melco confirms interest in Barcelona World

By - 3 June 2013

Melco International Development could be poised to take on Las Vegas Sands in the battle for super casino supremacy in Spain having confirmed that it has been invited to take part in Barcelona World, a US$1bn casino resort project set for the outskirts of Barcelona.

Melco International, a partner in Macau operator Melco Crown Entertainment, confirmed that it was exploring the opportunity with the company behind the project; Veremonte.
It stated that it was ‘happy to be invited’ by Veremonte to take part in the Barcelona World project as casino operator and said that in the coming months, it would ‘continue to work with Veremonte on the definitive casino management agreement.’ It added it would make an announcement when the ‘agreement is signed.’

If it did get involved in Barcelona world, it would pitch the internationally-renowned operator directly against its Macau rival Las Vegas Sands, who three months ago it would build a US$9bn casino leisure resort in Alcorcón, potentially called EuroVegas.
At a press conference at Tarragona Chamber of Commerce, Veremonte President, Enrique Bañuelos, confirmed that the hope was that Melco Crown that Melco would have two local partners, Meliá hotel group and a shopping mall firm called Value Retail.

Melco is seen as being the key partner though and not just for its financial muscle. Its proximity to Chinese tourists via its Macau commitments marries perfectly with the first phase of the project’s partial reliance on junkets.

Andreu Mas-Colell, a legal representative for the Government of Cataluña’s Department of Economy, explained that up to 5,000 new permanent jobs would be created at the complex, which is scheduled to open in 2016. He added that, in contrast to Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands’ proposal in Madrid, there would be no demands to change anti-smoking legislation prior to any funding being confirmed.
He added that the casino did not require a single Euro of public money.
It is envisaged that BCN World would open with a single resort called Barcelona Dream which would have a foot print of 3.2m sq. ft. offering 1,100 hotel beds, a casino and a theatre. It could be open by 2016.
The project would be funded equally by bank loans and equity. Each partner brings a different amount BCN World project.  Melco could invest almost $150m, according to sources close to the project.
The long-term plan is to open six resorts at BCN World with six hotels, a total of 12,000 rooms, six casinos and retail offering up to 450 brands. Each casino will be themed on a geographical part of Europe, the USA, China, Brazil, Russia or the Middle East.

Eventually it would have three separate areas; BCN Dream, Smart Cities and Beach Club. It would be developed at Costa Dorada in Tarragona on land belonging to the La Caixa bank near the Port Aventura theme park in the towns of Vilaseca and Salou and would be located 90 km away from Barcelona.

The neighbouring Port Aventura theme park hotel has 2,000 rooms and already operates a convention center and many attractions with over 4,000,000 visitors annually. The synergy between the park and this new investment is expected to be positive for both projects.

Veremonte CEO Xavier Adserà said: “The casinos will be an essential part of the leisure mix. We also have six smart cities inspired by Brazil, India, China, Russia and the Middle East, with food, entertainment and commercial offers from these locations.”

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