Sheldon Adelson didn't get his start in the casino business until he turned 55, but in the last 30-plus years, he became one of the wealthiest and most influential people on the planet. Sheldon Adelson grew up in Boston as the son of immigrants. He started his first business, selling newspapers, and parlayed that ambition into becoming one of the richest men in the world. Once he caught a glimpse of Las Vegas and the allure of conventions in Sin City, his ambition and drive coupled with his vision for the future helped turned Las Vegas into the big business, adult playland of today. He made his fortune with Comdex, one of the world's largest computer trade shows, which he'd sell for over $900 million and earned a cut worth a half-billion dollars.
Adelson bought the Las Vegas Sands in the late 1980s for $128 million, which he imploded in 1996 to build the Venetian and expand the convention center. Adelson also had his eyes on China when Hong Kong returned to China in 1999 after the reign of British rule ended. He wanted to get into Macau, which many insiders thought would never happen because his ambition was too high and Stanley Ho, who controlled all the gaming in Macau, was too powerful. Somehow and someway (wink, wink), Adelson was able to build megaresorts in Macau in order to service high rollers in Asia. He had the foresight to realize that the new China had a growing market of high-end gamblers that would rather make an easier trek to Macau than an arduous journey to the USA and the middle of the Nevada desert. One financial publication estimated that Adelson's personal wealth multiplied by 14 times when his Macau properties were up and running. Forbes listed Adelson as #19 on their 2020 richest people in the world list with a fortune worth $35 billion.
As Adelson rose to power over the previous three decades, Adelson made numerous enemies, especially in Las Vegas and along the political trail as a GOP super-mega-donor, where he funded the campaigns of numerous Republican politicians that were partial to strengthening ties with Israel. Beltway insiders referred to him as the Republican kingmaker, because modern day politics became more about a hefty war chest than actual policies. Adelson donked off $20-plus million into Newt Gingrich's losing bid for the White House. He also backed a losing candidate in Mitt Romney in 2012. Over the last two years, one publication estimated Adelson donated over $200 million to various GOP candidates, politicians, and Super PACs. According to Pen Secrets, he donated $172 million to the 2020 election cycle, including Trump's losing bid for reelection. The Guardian estimated he donated more than a half a billion bucks to political campaigns over his lifetime.
Many members of the online poker community had a strong disdain for Adelson due to his anti-online gambling stance, especially when it came to online poker. Adelson had his fingerprints all over the UIEGA, Black Friday, and the DOJ's expansion of the Wire Act.
Online poker blossomed in the USA at the start of the 21st Century and fueled by the Moneymaker effect, hole-card cameras, and poker on TV. However, Adelson's anti-online gambling stance facilitated the clamp down of online poker in America. As a result of Black Friday in April 2011, small business owners in the poker community were left out in the cold and numerous poker media publications were wiped out over night. Online poker pros were forced to become brick and mortar pros, or if they became online poker exiles and forced to move to Mexico, Canada, or other countries overseas.
Online gambling became a state-by-state legality issue and as more states legalized it, Adelson made sure that online poker companies in individual states could not share player pools and liquidity as more states eventually legalized online gaming and online poker. That's where the expansion of the Wire Act came into play. Cockblocked once again.
During the pandemic when casinos shuttered its doors in March 2020, Adelson paid his employees in full. He took care of everyone that worked at his casinos in Las Vegas. He also worked diligently to provide PPE to hospital workers in New York and Nevada.
In 2015, the Adelson family secretly bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which had been intensely critical of his dealings in Sin City since the early 1990s.
Adelson also helped open the doors for pro football to come to Las Vegas. Although the deal fell apart with the Las Vegas Raiders, the stadium never would have come to fruition and the Oakland Raiders never would have moved to Sin City if Adelson was not involved at the earliest stages.