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Plans for a Spanish Las Vegas a busted flush?

Los Monegros: Credit Willtron, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

In December 2007 I reported on plans to build a Las Vegas style pleasure city including 32 hotel casinos, 5 parks, a race track, a big convention centre, a bull ring, and various golf courses with residential complexes in the Los Monegros desert region of Aragon, in the north east of Spain.

With an expected investment of around 17 billion Euros in total, Gran Scala, as it is called, was announced with much fanfare last December by Marcelino Iglesias, Socialist president of Aragon, who said the resort would showcase the region to the world. The vice-president of Aragon, Jose Angel Biel, promised to lay the first stone in September of this year.

The problem with ambitious plans like these, is they go nowhere without serious money and serious backers. It now looks as if the government of Aragon might have fallen for a bluff.

According to recent reports in the Spanish press, it seems that the international consortium promoting the project was only incorporated in Cardiff last July with capital of just 50,000 pounds. And the company due to create and run two of the theme parks in the resort was only set up in Reno in September with capital of just 950 Euros. With start up capital like this, locals have been asking themselves how the British-based consortium, called International Leisure Development (ILD), will ever find the 17 billion Euros needed to turn the Los Monegros desert into the world’s second biggest casino and leisure complex.

It then emerged that representatives of ILD in Spain have been using the government of Aragon’s logo in documentation seeking to raise 4.8 million Euros to develop a new fuel efficient motor with no connection to the Gran Scala project. This looks like trying to exploit a connection to the Government of Aragon to raise money for unrelated, speculative projects.

The ‘Stop Gran Scala’ protest group, set up by environmentalists and local associations, has taken the matter to court, alleging that the government of Aragon “went too far without doing proper checks into the project.” They certainly do look a bit foolish.

The government of Aragon appear to be back peddling. They no longer talk about any deadlines, and describe the idea as “just an idea”.