Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson dies at 87

Self-made Sheldon Gary Adelson, mainly known as one of the prime visionaries of the Las Vegas gaming scene, made dozens of headlines earlier this week as news of his death at the age of 87 years old surfaced. The casino mogul had his bout of health issues since 2001 while most recently seeking treatment for a form of blood cancer – non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which reportedly caused his unfortunate passing.

1024px Sheldon Adelson 19 June 2010
Sheldon Adelson

Confirmed by his wife Miriam Adelson and his company Las Vegas Sands Corp on Tuesday, the statement noted, “Our founder and visionary leader, Sheldon G Adelson, passed away last night at the age of 87 from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma”

“In Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore, Mr Adelson’s vision for integrated resorts transformed the industry, changed the trajectory of the company he founded, and reimagined tourism in each of those markets,”

“It is with unbearable pain that I announce the death of my husband, Sheldon G. Adelson, of complications from a long illness,”, his wife of thirty years Dr. Miriam Adelson further added.

“To me – as to his children, grandchildren, and his legions of friends and admirers, employees and colleagues – he is utterly irreplaceable.”

A pioneer in the Las Vegas gambling scene

Chairman and CEO of the world’s largest gaming corporation, Adelson pioneered the unique concept of the integrated resort model which ultimately changed the whole Las Vegas scene as we see now. While his successful vision and business ventures propelled him to becoming one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, Adelson did not always have it easy.

A true rags to riches story, Adelson grew up poor in Dorchester, Boston sharing a one-bedroom with his parents and three siblings. By the age of 12, Adelson followed through with his entrepreneurial mindset and began selling newspapers on the street. This marked the beginning of a lifelong continuous journey to eventually becoming a cemented figure in the world’s most visited entertainment city.

Inspired by his honeymoon trip, Adelson took the plunge and founded his company, Las Vegas Sands Corp in the 1980s and interestingly went on to purchase the Sands Hotel Casino. Following his idea of drawing in business to a city which mainly promotes entertainment and pleasure, Adelson followed the purchase with a more different type of investment, the development of the Sands Expo and Convention Center adjacent to the property only a year after. Adapting to change and modernization, Adelson soon after expanded his resort, building The Venetian in 1999 and a more elegant hotel, The Palazzo in 2007. Together, his group of establishments make up the world’s largest integrated resort, offering over 7,000 luxury suites, 2.3 million square feet of convention space and a huge array of shopping, dining and entertainment options. His aggressive strategy proved to be largely successful with many duplicating his innovative model not long after. By sticking to his vision regardless of what others thought, Adelson reaped the fruits of his labor and evolved to what is now dubbed as one of the greatest entrepreneurs, philanthropists and visionaries known today.

“I came to learn that if you do things differently, success will follow you like a shadow. So that’s what I did. People doubted me because people just didn’t do what I would do. Nobody thought about doing it the way I did.”, he previously said in a 2014 Global Gaming Expo appearance.

A vision for Macao as Asia’s luxury entertainment hub

With his Las Vegas resorts well-received by many, Adelson grew his empire even more by grabbing the opportunity to invest in the “Las Vegas of Asia”, Macao in its developing stages. In the early 2000’s, Las Vegas Sands Corp. was the first American company to enter the untapped market, beginning with its first establishment, Sands Macao. In only a short span of one year, his company recovered its initial investment of $265 million and went on to build the world’s largest casino, The Venetian Macao a few years after.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore
Marina Bay Sands Singapore. Credit: Visit Singapore


Another greatly successful business venture, Adelson’s personal wealth multiplied 14 times in its first four years of operations, pushing the casino mogul to pursue its vision of creating a Las Vegas counterpart in the once Portuguese territory. The company’s focus on the Asian market continued on following the Venetian Macao opening in 2007 with the Plaza Macao opening in 2008, the Sands Cotai Central opening in 2012, and the Parisian Macao opening in 2016.

In addition to its Macao establishments, Las Vegas Sands Corp explored other nearby Asian countries, landing an impressive deal with Singapore to build an iconic development. The $6 billion project otherwise known as Marina Bay Sands opened its doors in 2010, astonishing guests with its three tower architectural design, infinity pool atop and 2,500 luxury suites. Fast forward to today, Adelson’s businesses in Asia comprise the majority of his company’s gambling profits, earning even more than that of its Las Vegas portfolio.

Fight against online poker

Aside from Adelson’s influence brought by his growing business ventures and place in the political setting throughout the years, the casino mogul was also one of the high profile characters in opposition to online poker in the US. For the last decade, Adelson was keen on having online poker or online gambling as a whole be completely banned in the country. In an interview back in 2013, he iterated that he would “spend whatever it takes” to do so, leading him to eventually fund the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

While his empire revolves heavily around gaming, his fight against online poker was reported to be initiated by a series of moral concerns. In interviews stemming as far back as 2011, Adelson evidently referred to online gambling as “fool’s gold”, “a societal train wreck waiting to happen” and “a toxin which all good people ought to resist”, urging Congress to pass legislation deeming internet gaming outright illegal. With research showing that the rise in online gambling has resulted in a significant decrease in visitation to land-based casinos, it may possibly be that Adelson was merely protecting his businesses in the country. Nonetheless, his fight against online poker ends here with the future of online gaming legalization remaining a far possibility.

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Janette Dee

Graduated from De La Salle University, Janette works as a full time teacher in Manila, Philippines. She has long joined the local poker community as a recreational player for the last decade. Having a natural love for the game, she decided to branch out into a different avenue of poker. Currently, Janette works for Somuchpoker as a content writer reporting local and international news for the site.

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