Spain's debt-ridden Catalonia region unveiled plans Friday for a 4.8-billion-euro ($6.0 billion) "Barcelona World" resort but with financing yet to be found and no deal signed.
Catalonia revealed the project as its regional capital Barcelona seemed set to lose a battle with Madrid to lure US firm Las Vegas Sands to build a jobs-rich mega casino project, dubbed Eurovegas.
"Barcelona World" envisages six large tourist complexes near Port-Aventura south of Barcelona with 20,000 hotel rooms, shopping centres, a theatre, convention centre, casinos, services and offices.
Each complex would represent a country or region: Europe, the United States, China, Brazil, Russia and India, and the project promoters said they hope to lure 10 million visitors a year.
The plan is backed by the Catalonia government, La Caixa bank, and the Brazil-based real estate developer Veremonte, whose main shareholder is Spanish billionaire Enrique Banuelos.
They were working "alongside international investors," the Catalan government said in a statement.
But "nothing has been signed, we just have an agreement between the parties to go ahead with the project," said a finance official at the Catalan regional government.
"We are looking for self-financing on an equity basis, which means attracting investors to each of the six complexes who will also take charge of construction in that sector."
Catalonia said the scheme would create an estimated 20,000 jobs, crucial in a period when Spain is suffering an unemployment rate of nearly 25 percent, the highest in the industrialized world.
"Barcelona World" is being made public as news emerged that Las Vegas Sands was likely to spurn Barcelona for a mega casino project.
The two cities have been in talks for months to lure "Eurovegas", with a decision expected by the end of the month.
This week, Madrid regional government head Esperanza Aguirre said she had a "positive intuition" that the Spanish capital would be selected.
"Yes, that's probable," Artur Mas, the head of the government of the northeastern region of Catalonia agreed in a radio interview.
Catalonia's regional and sustainability minister, Lluis Recoder, said "Barcelona World" was in some ways better than "Eurovegas".
"It is a developed and thought-out project," he said in the Catalan government statement.
Unlike the project pushed by billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands, "it is a strategic project that has consensus of the territory," he added.
Since it was to be located in in a developed area with no planning modifications required, "the speed of execution of this project is greater than any other that could be on the table, not only in Catalonia but in the whole of Spain," he said.
Opponents of the "Eurovegas" project fear it will open the doors to a prostitution mafia, and they have denounced a return to the excesses of the Spanish property bubble, which imploded in 2008.
Las Vegas Sands, the world's biggest casino company by market value, operates The Venetian and The Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. It also operates properties in Macao.