Madrid's regional government president has resorted to considering overturning Spain's smoking ban in attempt to ensure that her city wins a proposed mega casino project.
Esperanza Aquire's comments come in the heat of a fierce battle between the Spanish capital and second city Barcelona, to win a contract for a giant casino complex funded partly by Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Though pundits consider her remark unfounded and doubt that she really has the power to overturn the national ban, it does demonstrate the desire on the city's part to win the contract, which is hardly surprising.
With 1 in 4 Spaniards out of work, both cities will go to any lengths to secure the project, which is estimated to create around 230,000 jobs – and Barcelona's bid was given a boost just before Aquire's remark, as top chef Ferran Adria backed the Catalonian capital's bid whilst cooking dinner for a delegation from Las Vegas that recently visited the city.
The decision will be made on 1st September assuming Adelson can persuade Spanish legislators to make some unspecified minor amendments and that Spanish banks are prepared to finance 66% of the £13.6 billion cost of the project.
Opposition to the project centres on a potential rise in crime, particularly from prostitution and money laundering - though with Spain in such a dire economic position none of these issues are expected to have much impact.