Hard Rock Bezenye

Northwestern Hungary might be the major European destination for those who enjoy blackjack and burgers when Hard Rock International opens its new hotel and casino in the border village of Bezenye.

What’s being billed as Europe’s first “Las Vegas-style” gambling house is expected to be ready by 2012.

“The site has a tremendous triangle of markets to offer,” said Hard Rock chairman Jim Allen.

Also known as Bizonja, its Croatian name, Bezenye is about 100 miles northwest of Hungarian capital Budapest and 50 miles from the Austrian capital of Vienna. Bratislava, the Slovakian capital, is only 20 miles away.

“The economic crisis here in Europe and throughout the world slowed the timetable – but we don’t think that this has any significance in the long run,” Allen explained.

The project is expected to cost euro 5 billion ($6.9 billion) over 10 years, with the potential to eventually create an estimated 6,000 direct and 4,600 indirect jobs.

Over a decade, Hungary’s tax revenues from gambling at the casino are projected to total euro 500 million ($690 million).

“Even during an economic crisis, we have to think about the future,” said former Hungarian finance minister Janos Veres, who was in office when bids for the project were coming in.

Hard Rock will partner in the development with Austrian companies Asamer Group and Supersberger Group. Hard Rock is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Hard Rock’s global business includes cafés and concert venues and a huge collection of rock ’n’ roll memorabilia.

Hungary has been hit hard by the current global economic crisis and in 2008 the government had to turn to the International Monetary Fund for a euro 20 million ($27.6 billion) bailout of its national finances.

Two weeks ago the European Commission gave the country another two years to curb its budget gap, postponing its deadline until 2011.

European Union finance ministers have repeatedly told the government to reduce its deficit because it has gone over the maximum 3 percent of gross domestic product set by EU budget rules.

The EC also recommended that Romania bring its deficit – expected to be 5.1 percent this year – under 3 percent by 2011, warning it to cut back public sector wages and pensions and to increase tax revenues by broadening the tax base.

Poland should reduce its deficit under the EU threshold by 2012, the EU said, repeating its forecast that the deficit would hit 6.6 percent this year-far higher than Warsaw’s expected 4.6 percent.