Billionaire Casino Mogul Sheldon Adelson Dies Aged 87

Sheldon Adelson died this week aged 87-years-old

Sheldon Adelson has died at the age of 87. The multi-billionaire founder of Las Vegas Sands Corp is survived by six children, 11 grandchildren, and his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson.

Adelson died less than a week after announcing he was taking a step back from business duties. Doctors diagnosed him with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer, in 2018. He underwent treatment while juggling his role of chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands.

The treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be debilitating. Traditional treatment consists of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and stem cell treatment. It is unknown which treatment doctors prescribed, but his death is attributed to complications from it.

“It is with unbearable pain that I announce the death of my husband, Sheldon G. Adelson, of complications from a long illness,” wrote his wife, Miriam. “Sheldon was the love of my life. He was my partner in romance, philanthropy, political activism, and enterprise. He was my soul mate.”

Adelson: The Self-Made Billionaire

Adelson was a polarizing figure in that people either loved or hated him with no in-between. There is no denying his business acumen regardless of your personal feelings towards him.

Born in Boston in 1933 to immigrant parent, he started his first business aged on 12-years-old. He borrowed money from an uncle and purchased a license to sell newspapers on Boston’s street. This was the first of more than 50 companies the prolific businessman founded.

Gambling came calling in 1988 when Adelson bought the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for $110 million. Adelson had a vision for his new property and built the Sands Expo and Convention Center the following year. Business people poked fun at Adelson for this idea but most Vegas casinos now have them too.

He razed the Sands to the ground after coming up for the idea of a mega-resort hotel. Adelson was on honeymoon in Venice when he decided to build The Venetian. The Venice-themed resort hotel and casino cost $1.5 billion and opened in May 1999.

Casinos in Singapore and Macau followed, helping Adelson amass a $34 billion fortune.

The Philanthropist

Adelson donated millions of dollars to charitable causes over the years. The U.S. Army veteran gave generously to wounded warriors. He preferred his donations to remain anonymous were possible, not wanting any fame or glory from others’ misfortune.

COVID-19 hit Adelson’s assets hard with casino closures and restrictions on patrons. Despite this and losing astronomical sums of money, he ensured his staff continued receiving their wages and medical insurance. There aren’t many other billionaires who have done that.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Adelson chartered his personal Boeing 747 to pick up protective masks from China to distribute to first responders in New York and Nevada. Donations of personal protective suits and COVID-19 tests followed. The casino mogul owned this newspaper.

His Controversial and Campaigning Side

The mega-rich tend to have a controversial side to them and Adelson was no different. He stood up for what he thought was right, even if that meant standing alone.

The Adelson’s were massive financial beneficiaries to the Republican election candidates. Records show they donated almost $350 million during the 2018 and 2020 elections.

Adelson fought hard to stop the legalization of cannabis. His son, Mitchell, died of a heroin and cocaine overdose in 2015. Another son, Gary, struggled with drug addiction too. Adelson believed cannabis is a gateway drug to harder narcotics.

His fight against online gambling was possibly harder fought than anything else. Adelson despised the idea, especially playing online poker. He spent millions lobbying against states regulating it and even created bills to ban all internet gambling. Adelson called online poker a “threat to our society” and “a toxin”. Adelson went as far to create and fund the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

It makes one wonder if online poker will be offered in more states after Adelson’s passing. There won’t be sacks of money changing hands to push bills, and prevent bills, in political circles. Nor will there be a hugely influential campaigner shouting from the rooftops.

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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