(CelebrityAccess) — Sheldon Adelson, the gaming mogul and conservative activist who built the largest casino empire in the world and helped to transform the gaming industry with innovations such as integrated resorts, has died. He was 87.
A statement from Las Vegas Sands said that Adelson died on Tuesday from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Born to immigrant parents and raised in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Adelson went from his humble beginnings of selling newspapers as a teenager to become one of the richest men in the world, with a reported fortune of US$33.5 billion, according to Forbes.
After a stint in the U.S. Army, Adelson made his first fortune when he co-founded COMDEX, an annual trade show for the consumer industry. Founded in 1979, COMDEX quickly became one of the largest trade shows in the world and was eventually sold to Japan’s Softbank for $862 million in 1998.
In 1988, Adelson purchased the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for $110 million and quickly began to expand the brand, starting in 1989 with the construction of Sands Expo and Convention Center, which at the time, was the only privately-owned convention center in the U.S.
In 1991, Adelson developed The Venetian, a $1.5 billion themed mega resort concept that combined a destination resort with a casino on the sight of the former Sands in Las Vegas.
Adelson also brought the Sands brand to China with the launch of Las Vegas Sands casinos in Macau. The casino, which opened in 2004, became the first Las Vegas-style resort to open in China. He also opened a $2.4 billion outlet of the Venetian in Macau and planned to bring other properties to China but ran afoul of U.S. regulators over alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act relating to payments made to a Macau lawyer.
Adelson was also known as a major political donor, and following the 2010 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, became the largest single political contributor in the 2012 election.
According to the New York Times, Adelson played a key role in the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, contributing more than $2 million to his campaign.
“He is a candidate with actual C.E.O. experience, shaped and molded by the commitment and risk of his own money rather than the public’s,” Adelson wrote in an 2016 op-ed for The Washington Post.
Adelson, who was Jewish, was also an ardent supporter of conservative politics in Israel, providing financial backing for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party.
Mr. Adelson and his wife, Miriam, also contributed hundreds of millions to a variety of nonpolitical philanthropic causes in the U.S. and Israel, including medical research and education.
Adelson is survived by his first wife, Sandra, and two of three adopted children, as well as his second wife, Miriam and their two sons.
A funeral will be held in Israel, the birthplace of Dr. Miriam Adelson, with plans for a memorial service held in Las Vegas to be announced at a later date.