Sheldon Adelson – Visionary Casino Tycoon and Business Powerhouse
Sheldon Adelson was an eminent American businessman, investor, political donor, and philanthropist. He left an indelible mark on both the business and political landscapes.
As the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of the prestigious Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Adelson’s life is a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and determination.
Adelson’s journey in business began at the tender age of 12. Armed with a $200 loan from his uncle (equivalent to $3,379.19 today), he embarked on his entrepreneurial path by purchasing a license to sell newspapers in Boston. This early venture laid the foundation for his remarkable success.
As of September 2020, Forbes estimated Adelson’s net worth at an astonishing $29.8 billion. This immense wealth speaks volumes about his business acumen and impact on various industries.
Recognized for his significant contributions, the casino magnate was often halide as a “kingmaker” in political circles. His generous donation to the Republican Party, both in size and frequency, positioned him as a powerful influencer in US politics.
In this article, we break down the life and achievements of the casino tycoon, including the Sheldon Adelson net worth and the pivotal moments that shaped his career and legacy.
Sheldon Adelson Highlights
- He started his first business when he was 12 years old
- Dropped out of college
- Built and lost fortunes twice by the age of 30
- Known as the richest man in Las Vegas
- Referred to as the “kingmaker” for donating over $430 million to the Republican Party
- Made Macao the gambling capital of the world with his investments
Sheldon Adelson Early Years and Upbringing
Sheldon Gary Adelson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 4, 1933. Growing up in the vibrant Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Adelson’s early years were shaped by a diverse heritage.
His father’s family hailed from Ukrainian Jewish and Lithuanian Jewish ancestry, while his mother immigrated from England, with Adelson proudly sharing that his grandfather was a Welsh coal miner.
Adelson’s father worked as a taxi driver in a household where hard work was valued, while his mother managed a knitting shop. These humble beginnings instilled in Adelson a strong work ethic and drive for success.
Adelson’s entrepreneurial spirit emerged at the age of 12 when he borrowed $200 from his uncle. He used this money to purchase a license to sell newspapers in Boston.
By the time he turned 15 in 1948, he had seized an opportunity by borrowing $10,000 from his uncle to establish a candy vending-machine business. Even in his formative years, Adelson displayed a knack for identifying and capitalizing on business prospects.
Although Adelson attended the City College of New York, he did not graduate. Unfettered by this setback, he pursued further education by attending trade school, aspiring to become a court reporter.
Eventually, he joined the army, gaining valuable life experiences that would shape his life.
Business Career and Ventures of Sheldon Adelson
After completing his service in the army, the "Kingmaker" wasted no time establishing his first business venture - selling toiletry kits.
Continuing his business journey, the investor ventured into another business endeavor called De-Ice-It. This innovative company marketed a chemical spray designed to clear ice from windshields - an invention that garnered attention and success.
In the 1960s, he expanded his business portfolio by entering the charter tour industry. This move proved a significant turning point as his ventures began flourishing, and he became a millionaire.
Despite encountering setbacks, including building and losing fortunes twice before reaching his thirties, Adelson’s resilience propelled him to continue moving forward.
In the late 1970s, Adelson and his partners made a groundbreaking move by developing COMDEX trade shows for the computer industry. These trade shows quickly became one of the largest and most influential in the world through the 1980s and 1990s.
His achievements culminated in 1995 when he and his partners sold the Interface Group Show Division to the SoftBank Group of Japan, including the highly successful COMDEX shows. This deal amounts to an astounding $862 million, with Adelson personally earning over $500 million.
“I never thought about becoming wealthy. It never crossed my mind. What really motivated me was to try to accomplish something.”
Buying the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas
A pivotal moment in Sheldon Adelson’s career came in 1988 when he acquired the Sand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for a staggering $110 million. This landmark purchase marked the beginning of Adelson’s significant presence in the Las Vegas hospitality and brick-and-mortar casino industry.
In 1989, he further solidified his position by constructing the Sand Expo and Convention Center, an impressive feat as it stood as the only privately owned and operated convention center in the United States at the time.
This visionary move allowed Adelson to tap into the lucrative convention and trade show market, bolstering his success n the hospitality sector.
In a bold move, Adelson decided to demolish the Sand Hotel and Casino in 1996. Rising from the rubble was the majestic Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, later known as The Venetian Las Vegas.
This grand establishment opened its door in 1999 and stood as a testament to Adelson’s vision and determination, becoming an iconic landmark on the Las Vegas Strip.
Sheldon Adelson's Expansion to Macau
In 1999, shortly after Macau transitioned from Portuguese to Chinese jurisdiction, Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands (LVS), secured one of the first new gaming licenses issued.
The Sands Macao opened in May 2004 and became an instant triumph. Remarkably, it recouped its initial investment within a year of operation, spotlighting the success of Adelson’s foray into Macau's gambling market.
Taking inspiration from his iconic Venetian Las Vegas, Adelson unveiled The Venetian Macao in 2007, further solidifying his presence in Macau. This lavish resort, reminiscent of its Las Vegas counterpart, added to the allure and grandeur of Macau as a premier gambling destination.
Thanks to Adelson's influence, Macau soon outpaced Las Vegas, becoming the world’s biggest-grossing gambling center. Adelson’s ventures in the region, including the Marina Bay Sand in Singapore, propelled him into the ranks of the world’s wealthiest individuals.
Political Views and Support of Sheldon Adelson
Adelson’s political views have played a significant role in his public persona. In the early 1990s, Adelson began to develop strong political convictions that would shape his future contributions and activism.
Following clashes with labor unions at his Las Vegas properties, the billionaire made substantial contributions to the Republican National Committee.
As a result, he gained recognition as a notable “mega-donor” to the Republican Party, using his wealth to support their causes and candidates.
During the 2012 United States presidential election cycle, he spent $92 million supporting candidates who ultimately lost the election. In 2016 his contributions exceeded $50 million, demonstrating his inexhaustible commitment to advancing conservative principles.
Adelson’s financial support extended to the 2018 Unites States elections, where he donated approximately $113 million to the Republican Party through various conservative political action committees.
It is estimated that by 2020, Adelson donated an astounding $430 million to conservative causes.
Beyond political campaigns, he also invested heavily in advocating against the legalization of online gambling and supporting the War on Drugs.
In 2014, he donated $2.5 million to the Drug-Free Florida Committee, opposing the legalization of medical cannabis in the state. Adelson believed that cannabis is a gateway drug, leading to further concerns about drug use.
Sheldon Adelson Net Worth and Wealth
Forbes put Sheldon Adelson net worth in 2020, one year before his death, at $29.3 billion.
The “kingmaker’s” fortune was primarily amassed in the casino hotel industry, where he owned over half of a remarkable $14 billion gambling empire. This empire included prestigious casinos in renowned locations such as Las Vegas, Singapore, and Macao.
While Adelson’s success in business was undeniable, he also utilized his wealth to influence political discourse.
He dedicated a significant portion of his fortune to backing conservative politicians in the United States and Israel, playing a pivotal role in shaping the political landscape of both nations.
Marriages and Private Life
During the 1970s, the casino magnate resided in Massachusetts with his wife, Sandra, and her three children, Mitchel, Gary, and Shelley, whom he adopted when they were young—however, the couple divorced in 1988.
Adelson’s romantic life took a new turn when he went on a blind date and met Miriam Farbstein Ochshorn, a medical doctor. They tied the knot in 1991.
Miriam had been previously married and had two daughters of her own, blending their families.
Where Is Sheldon Adelson Today?
Sheldon Adelson died in 2021 at the age of 87 at his home in Malibu, California. According to an official statement released by his company, Las Vegas Sands, his death was attributed to complications arising from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.
What Is Sheldon Adelson Net Worth?
According to Forbes, Sheldon Adelson net worth in 2020, one year before his death, was $29.3 billion.
Is Sheldon Adelson Still Alive?
Sheldon Adelson died from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2021 at the age of 87 at his home in Malibu, California.
Who Is the Richest Man in Las Vegas?
Often hailed as the “kingmaker,” Sheldon Adelson owned the largest casino empire in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Sands. His estimated net worth at the time of his death was $29.3 billion.
Was Sheldon Adelson Married?
At the time of his death, the casino magnate was married to his 2nd wife, Miriam Farbstein Ochshorn, a medical doctor.
How Did Sheldon Adelson’s Son Die?
Sheldon Adelson’s son Mitchell, from his first marriage, died of an overdose in 2005. This tragedy made Adelson a huge opponent of legalizing drugs.