A plan for a new tourism and entertainment area in Barcelona, Spain is moving ahead after a revamp that cut its projected gaming area to a seventh of the original size, it was announced last week.
Two Asian casino groups – Melco group and Genting group – are reportedly involved in separate bids for casino licences in the development.
Casino entrepreneur Lawrence Ho Yau Lung leads the Melco group. It has gaming investments in Macau, Philippines, Russia and other Asian markets.
Genting is engaged in gaming operations in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Europe and the United States.
The Spanish project – previously known as “BCN World” and first announced in 2012 – now has the working title “Complejo Turístico y Recreativo de Vila-Seca y Salou” (Spanish for “Leisure and Tourism Complex of Vila-Seca and Salou”).
“BCN World is dead and buried,” stated Catalan Vice President and Catalan Minister for Economy, Oriol Junqueras, during a presentation of the new project, last week.
Construction works are now forecast to start in mid-2017. Total investment is expected to reach EUR2.5 billion (US$2.8 billion). It is unclear how much of that investment is to be gaming-related.
The overall development area of the project has been cut by about a fourth – to around 745,000 square metres (8.0 million sq feet) – and there will be a maximum of two casinos, with a total area of 30,000 square metres. Original plans envisaged six casinos, covering a combined area of 210,000 square metres.
Spanish media reports say three investors have been selected for the second phase of the casino tender process. Those include: the Hard Rock group; the Melco group; and Spanish-based Grup Peralada, in partnership with the Genting group.
The winners of the tender process – which began in 2014 – should be announced in the first quarter of 2017.
Spanish newspaper ABC reported that Melco and Hard Rock were likely to present a joint bid for the project: if successful, each would operate one casino in the Spanish development.
In January, after more than two months of difficult negotiations, two pro-independence parties in the Catalan parliament struck a last-minute deal to form a new government; but the coalition has since shown signs of instability. According to Spanish media reports, one of the parties in the coalition supporting the government – Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, also known as CUP – reportedly opposed the BCN World project, putting it on hold.
According to the latest media reports following the project revamp, the Catalunyan government has enough support from other parties to push ahead with the new proposal.
It is expected that the Spanish development will include casinos, hotels, convention centres, leisure centres and shops.
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DS Kim, Jeremy An and Christine Wang
Analysts at brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd