Legal framework for $6 billion mega-casino and amusement resort BCN World approved
The Catalan Parliament has finally approved the legal framework allowing the construction and the activities of the BCN World mega-resort, to be located next to PortAventura amusement park in the Costa Daurada. Now, the company Veremonte has the final green light to start construction, after it already had announced the first investors some months ago. Casino giant Melco, hotel brand Melià, US Hard Rock, Value Retail shopping malls and Investindustrial, which owns PortAventura, will participate in the $6 billion project. Furthermore, Ferrari announced it will build its first theme park in Europe there. BCN World involves 6 mega-casinos, large-size hotels, shopping malls, convention centres, theatres, golf courses, parks, a beach club, technology institutes and smart city developments.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Parliament finally approved this Thursday the legal framework allowing the construction and the activities of BCN World mega-resort, which will be located next to PortAventura amusement park in the Costa Daurada. After months of discussion and negotiation, the legal modifications have been passed with the main support of the Centre-Right pro-Catalan State Coalition (CiU) – which runs Catalonia's Government – and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), following an agreement reached by both parties two months ago. Furthermore, key aspects of the new legal framework have also been backed by the People's Party (PP), which currently forms the Spanish Government, although it did abstain on some points of the new regulation. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), which shares a stability agreement with the CiU, supported some points but it also opposed some important modifications regarding taxation and urban planning. The other left-wing parties (the Catalan Green Socialist and post-Communist Coalition ICV-EUiA and the radical left and independence party CUP) totally opposed the project, while the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C's) abstained. BCN World involves 6 mega-casinos, large-size hotels, shopping malls, convention centres, theatres, theme parks, golf courses, a beach club, technology institutes and smart city developments. Several international investors have already been announced, such as Melco, Melià, Value Retail and Hard Rock. The project is expected to create 17,000 jobs in the construction phase (directly and indirectly) and 5,000 jobs per mega-hotel, with an investment of $6 billion. Xavier Adserà, President of BCN World and CEO of Veremonte, welcomed the Catalan Parliament's decision and stated he was open to introducing modifications to the project.
From this Thursday, Veremonte has the final green light to start the construction of BCN World, after it already had announced the first investors some months ago. Chinese casino giant Melco, Spanish luxury hotel brand Melià and UK luxury shopping mall firm Value Retail will build the first mega-hotel and casino, with some 1,000 rooms. In addition, the Italian investment group Investindustrial – which owns PortAventura – will participate in the construction of the $6 billion project, and announced it will directly manage 3,000 hotel rooms in the area. The US multinational Hard Rock will also join the project building one hotel, although its exact involvement is still to be detailed. On top of this, in March Ferrari announced that it will build its first and only theme park in Europe next to PortAventura and BCN World, to be opened by 2016.
BCN World was announced in September 2012 as an alternative to Sheldon Adelson's Eurovegas project. However, in order to make it happen, significant regulatory modifications were needed so as to adapt the area urban planning but also to modify essential aspects regarding taxation and gambling. At that time, Veremonte – leading the project – had already reached an agreement with La Caixa bank, which owns all the land around PortAventura, in order to buy the plots if the regulatory framework was modified to be a bit more advantageous to the project. The Catalan elections of November 2012 put on hold the process to modify the legal framework. A parliamentary commission was created in 2013 to study the project and hear expert opinions on tourism, taxation, gambling, money laundering, security, addictions, the environment, etc.
The governing CiU needed the support of another party to pass the new legal framework but the ERC, their parliamentary allies, was sceptical regarding essential aspects of the project. Meanwhile, Veremonte started to announce the first international investors and provide a few more details of the project, although many aspects are still unknown. Finally, the CiU and the PSC reached an agreement in March 2014 to approve the new legal framework and urban planning.
Now, the new law makes the taxes paid by casinos in Catalonia drop from the current 55% on profit to 10%. Casinos will also be allowed to issue credits to gamblers, although protection measures will be introduced for addicts. In addition, it allows the setting up of casinos in the area to be occupied by BCN World in the municipalities of Salou and Vila-seca, although no gambling will be allowed within PortAventura amusement park. In fact, Veremonte, the company leading the BCN World project, has insisted on many occasions that families are also one of their targets. In this vein, the CEO of Veremonte stated on Wednesday they are open to modifying certain aspects of the project in order to better protect minors. Furthermore, the new urban planning limits the construction of casinos, hotels and housing to 30% of the total surface area. However, the new law opens the door so that further surface area could be occupied in a later urban plan if the project reaches the maximum capacity currently allowed. Xavier Adserà also said on Wednesday they are not planning to build private residential houses within BCN World.