Sheldon Adelson, one of the world’s best-known casino owners, died from complications associated with treatment for non-lymphoma Hodgkin’s at the age of 87.
Adelson, who died Monday night, built some of Las Vegas and Asia’s most recognizable and famous casino resorts
He was known to have taken activist positions on high-profile public issues, especially as an opponent of both internet gambling and marijuana legalization. Adelson was also a generous philanthropist, accumulating immense wealth; Forbes recently put his fortune at almost $30 billion.
Newspapers in the United States and Israel were among Adelson’s business interests outside of the casino industry. The change raised eyebrows when he purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2015, due to the alleged link between the city’s most influential print news activity and an outsized pioneer in the casino industry.
Born and raised in humble conditions in Boston, Adelson went on to become a self-made millionaire in several companies as an entrepreneur before acquiring significant wealth through the evolution and then selling of COMDEX, the most popular computer trade show during the rise of that industry in the 1980s and 1990s.
When he opened the Venetian in 1999, an opulent casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip, he placed his stamp on the gaming industry. The Venetian architecture, constructed during the Las Vegas period when new resorts were planned to evoke romantic locations, suggested the popular Italian city complete with a waterway on which gondoliers transported tourists through a shopping mall.
A sister property, the nearby Palazzo, was later added by Adelson.
Latest reports have indicated that Adelson and Sands are pursuing the $6 billion sale of the Vegas Strip assets.
Sands also recently has begun a campaign to bring casinos to Texas, which potentially could contribute to sports betting there.
Casino construction in Macau
Perhaps the boldest move by Adelson was to attempt the construction of a casino in Macau, China, an initiative that enriched his publicly traded company, Las Vegas Sands, his shareholders and himself. One of the biggest casinos in the world is the Venetian Macau.
Always a supporter of the “integrated resort” idea, Adelson’s company also designed a stunning high-rise resort in Singapore, Marina Bay, where guests could find anything they needed on a single property. In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas Sands have constructed a casino that was sold many years ago.
As a vocal critic of Internet gambling, Adelson had been an outlier in the gaming industry for years and contributed to lawmakers who proposed anti-online gaming legislation, one of the most prominent being The Restoration of America’s Wire Act, which would have reigned in the proliferation of Internet gambling. These attempts have largely been ineffective. He and his partner, Dr. Miriam Adelson, were also opponents of widespread cannabis legalisation.
All-American story of entrepreneurship
Adelson’s wife issued a statement about her husband’s death, stating: “Sheldon was the love of my life. He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism and enterprise. He was my soulmate. To me – as to his children, grandchildren, and his legions of friends and admirers, employees and colleagues – he is utterly irreplaceable.”
Dr. Adelson defined her husband as having been “the son of poor immigrants, (who) rose to the pinnacle of business success on the strength of grit and genius, inspiration and integrity. His was an all-American story of entrepreneurship. When Sheldon launched a new venture, the world looked on with anticipation.”
She added her husband was “an American patriot: a U.S. Army veteran who gave generously to wounded warriors and, wherever he could, looked to the advancement of these great United States. He was the proudest of Jews, who saw in the State of Israel not only the realization of an historical promise to a unique and deserving people, but also a gift from the Almighty to all of humanity.”
Bill Miller, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association, described Mr. Adelson as “a true visionary and pioneer of modern casino gaming for more than three decades. From Las Vegas and Pennsylvania to Macao and Singapore, his mark is indelible.”
Statement from AGA President and CEO on the passing of Las Vegas Sands founder and chairman Sheldon Adelson. https://t.co/7jvC4lyOFA— American Gaming Association (@AmericanGaming) January 12, 2021