Mariano Rajoy has revealed that he met with Sheldon Adelson, the American casino magnate behind the Eurovegas project, last Sunday but stressed that "no decision has yet been made" on whether to relax Spain's smoking ban to permit gamblers to light up in the gaming rooms of the huge complex to be constructed in the Alcorcón area of the capital.
However, both Adelson and Madrid regional premier Ignacio González said on Tuesday that they took it as read that smoking would be permitted at Eurovegas.
Rajoy, though, limited himself to confirming he had met with "Mr. Adelson" and that his job as prime minister was to "listen to, hear and speak to people." He also noted that Eurovegas is a "good project that will create many jobs."
The Madrid regional health department chief, Javier Fernández-Lasquetty, said on Wednesday that he backed the proposal and that the central government would "soon bring about" the necessary reforms.
"We have to consider the magnitude of what this signifies at a moment when there are millions of people without a job in Spain," Lasquetty said.
UPyD spokesman in the regional assembly's health commission, Enrique Normand, was incredulous at Lasquetty's remarks, made "two days before World No Tobacco Day," the focus of which this year is to "prohibit the advertizing, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco."
"Lasquetty is harmful to your health," said Normand.