When you think of casino tourism, the first places that spring to mind are of course Las Vegas and Atlantic City in the United States and for good reason. Las Vegas attracts millions of visitors each year with their main destination being the famous casinos on the strip but it is not only Vegas that is starting to draw in the tourists. Spain is becoming one of Europe’s top destinations for those looking to visit a casino and there are a couple of reason why this looks set to continue.

The Vegas Strip by Carol M. Highsmith
The Vegas Strip by Carol M. Highsmith (Copyright Free)

In both 2015 and 2016, five million people visited Spain’s casinos. This is a phenomenal number and big gambling companies are taking note. A couple of huge projects are appearing on the horizon for the country that is causing some excitement among economists. It is no secret that Spain has had economic problems in recent years and any investment would be a welcome boost to the two massive casino projects that are nearing fruition could potentially be the start of the economic boost that Spain needs.

Casinos are always hugely popular whether they are land-based like those in Vegas or whether they are based online such as OmniaCasino, offering games featuring famous stars like Marilyn Monroe or fictional heroes like Iron Man. This is why Hard Rock International looks set to launch a massive integrated resort project near Barcelona. The project involves building a 745k square-metre site that is going to be known as Hard Rock Entertainment World. The site will house a 500 room hotel, 75 shops, a 15k entertainment venue and a casino that offers some 1200 electronic gaming machines and 100 gaming tables making it one of the biggest in Europe.

Hard Rock Hotel by WiNG (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Hard Rock Hotel by WiNG                (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Catalan Government is desperate to get this project off the ground with the cost being projected at around the €2bn mark. It will create thousands of jobs and bring a permanent boost to the area and the local economy.

Similarly, in Madrid, the Cordish Companies group based in Maryland are looking to build a massive 330-acre gambling and entertainment project called Live! Resorts.  The site is looking to make Madrid Europe’s Vegas and the project is set to cost around €2.2bn.

This is set to bring in around 1.6 million visitors annually from all over the world in what has been coined casino tourism. This would create over 50,000 jobs in the local economy and be a massive boost for the government.

There is, of course, some scepticism due to the familiarity between the huge build projects that wasted huge amounts of money before the 2008 financial crisis and the ones being talked about in Madrid and Barcelona, but Cordish group believe their business model is sound and once the resort is complete it will easily attract enough visitors annually to support all those jobs that have been talked about.

Casino visits in Spain were around 4.4 million a year in 2010 and this increased to 5 million a year by 2016. If these building projects are completed, the estimated build time is around three years, then those figures could be blown out of the water and the boost to the Spanish economy will be huge. It is now a case of watch and wait to see whether all that has been promised will be delivered.