Spain: Eurovegas – Removing the Tobacco Ban Obstacle

The Spanish Government is seriously considering amending the current regulations that ban smoking in any public premise in order to relax the current general prohibition. This likely legal amendment would be aimed at removing an important regulatory obstacle that could difficult the development of the so-called Eurovegas Project (that should result in the biggest casino and entertainment complex in Europe).

Under the current Spanish regulations smoking is forbidden in any type of public premises, including gambling halls (such as casinos or bingo halls). Pursuant to the plans mainly promoted by the Madrid regional authorities (the Eurovegas complex is projected to be seated in the said region), the idea would be introducing in the national health legislation an exemption of the smoking ban in favor of large and strategic entertainment resorts (such as the one that would become Eurovegas).

Up to this moment, the national authorities have been reluctant to move forward with this (regardless of the political pressure made by the Madrid authorities). Nonetheless, pursuant to recent statements made by representatives of the Spanish government, this approach would have changed as a consequence of the positive impact that the execution of the project would have from an employment-growth standpoint. Indeed, the Spanish Prime Minister has recently stated that the Eurovegas project is being contemplated as a strategic development that could significantly improve the levels of employment in the region of Madrid (one of the most crowded areas in Spain). Taking this into account, it seems that the chances of having the smoking ban obstacle relaxed are becoming very high.

This legal amendment would require the fulfillment of numerous procedural formalities, since the said ban is set forth in a parliamentary act. Hence, introducing a more flexible regime would require following the corresponding parliamentary procedure that would depart from the filing of a bill by the Government and its further discussion and, eventually, approval both in the Spanish Congress and Senate. Moreover, it is going to be crucial how this potential relaxation of the smoking prohibition is going to be construed. Indeed, in case it is established in such a manner that can only be applied in regards of very limited cases such as Eurovegas, it is highly probable that it is going to be questioned by the rest of gambling land-based operators as well as by the Spanish tourism and leisure industry in general.

In any case, should the process move on and the smoking ban be relaxed, this should become a new step towards the materialization of the significant Eurovegas project.