(Reuters) – American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who built lavish gambling halls that made him one of the richest men in the world and became a powerful supporter of US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu , died at the age of 87.
Adelson, who headed the world’s largest casino company, Las Vegas Sands, died Monday night from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Las Vegas Sands said in a statement Tuesday.
“In Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore, Mr. Adelson’s vision for integrated resorts has transformed the industry, changed the trajectory of the company he founded and reinvented tourism in each of these markets,” the company said. “Its impact on the industry will be eternal.”
A pugnacious self-made man raised in a poor Jewish immigrant family in Boston, Adelson founded hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore. His wealth made him a formidable figure in US politics as he funded Republicans including businessman-turned-politician Trump and fought against Democrats. He was also an important supporter of Israel.
With a net worth of $ 33.4 billion as of this week, Adelson was ranked as the 38th richest person in the world on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Adelson and his wife Miriam, an Israeli-born doctor, donated more than $ 218 million to Republican and conservative causes in the 2020 U.S. election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political spending more than anyone. other.
The Adelsons have been prolific supporters of Trump’s 2016 presidential bid, spending $ 20 million on the campaign and then $ 5 million more on his inauguration, and have remained supportive during his tumultuous presidency. The casino mogul was in regular contact with Trump after he took office and has seen some of his beloved Israel-related goals come true, including relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem in a break with decades of American politics. Adelson attended the embassy’s inauguration ceremony in May 2018.
Sheldon Adelson, casino mogul who made big bets on Trump and Netanyahu, dies at 87
“He created the course of the nations. Some of the historical changes it has helped bring about – in the United States, Israel and elsewhere – are publicly known, ”his widow, Miriam Adelson, said in a statement.
Known for his extensive philanthropic and business activities in Israel and for donations to Jewish causes, Adelson considered Netanyahu a close friend. Adelson changed the Israeli media landscape in 2007 by launching Israel Hayom, a right-wing free newspaper that took a pro-Netanyahu line.
Israeli political commentators have claimed that Adelson played a role in persuading Trump to adopt policies hand in hand with Netanyahu, leading to the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, support for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and the relocation of the US embassy to the disputed Jerusalem.
SON OF A CAB DRIVER
Adelson, a college dropout and the son of a taxi driver, was short and stocky, had thinning red hair, and in later years used a motorized scooter due to a medical condition that made walking difficult. But his appearance belied his power and leadership.
“I know a lot of people think that guys like me are successful by stepping on the broken backs of employees and other people, but they don’t understand that we too have philosophies and ideals that we adhere to very closely,” Adelson said at a Las Vegas event in 2008, according to New Yorker magazine.
His empire in the United States, Macau and Singapore was exemplified by the Venetian resort’s casino in Las Vegas, which boasted replicas of monuments from Venice, Italy, like the canals, the Rialto Bridge and the bell tower of the Basilica di San Marco. It has filled its gambling centers with trendy restaurants and shops, making them luxury destinations for business travelers and tourists.
In November 2018, Trump bestowed Adelson’s wife with the highest U.S. civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a move that critics have criticized as a presidential “thank you” for the couple’s financial support. During the White House ceremony, Trump greeted the Adelsons for protecting “the sacred heritage of the Jewish faith”, put the medal around her neck and kissed her on both cheeks.
Adelson also backed US Republican President George W. Bush, then poured tens of millions of dollars into the failed 2008 and 2012 efforts to defeat Democratic President Barack Obama.
Tributes to Adelson poured in after the news of his death.
“He was an American patriot, a generous benefactor of charitable causes and a strong supporter of Israel,” Bush said in a statement.
This was stated by Naftali Bennett, former Israeli defense minister and currently head of the far-right Yamina party Twitter that Adelson, was “a Jewish patriot who will be remembered for eternity in Israel”.
US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Our nation has lost an extraordinary American with the death of my friend Sheldon Adelson.”
Reported by Will Dunham, Doina Chiacu, Steve Holland; edited by Louise Heavens and Howard Goller