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Sheldon Adelson developed COMDEX, a computer trade show, which made him a fortune and launched him into the casino resort business.
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By the late 1980s, Adelson and his partners began looking for hotel property to complement their travel companies and their several private jets. In 1988, they purchased the legendary Sands Casino for $128 million, famed for being the hangout of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Adelson redesigned the Sands to his business model. He built a resort, shopping mall and convention center for his company’s events,
including COMDEX. He also began his notorious battles with regulatory authorities and unions while constructing the new Sands Casino and Convention Center.
In 1991, Sheldon Adelson met his wife Miriam, an Israeli-born physician specializing in drug abuse treatment. While honeymooning in Italy, he was inspired by the canals and architecture of Venice and began to envision a mega-resort hotel. In 1995, he sold COMDEX to a Japanese firm for $860 million, with a personal share of over $500 million. Free now to make his own deals with Wall Street bankers, Adelson shed his partnerships with Interface and ventured out on his own to build his $1.5 billion Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center. Despite legal and contractual battles with unions and contractors, the resort opened in 1999 and was wildly successful.
Following the success of the Venetian, Sheldon Adelson was presented with an offer he couldn’t refuse. Through business associates he was able to negotiate an agreement to open another Venetian casino resort on the Chinese island of Macao, which had recently become the center of a massive Asian gambling market. In 2006, Adelson was awarded a hotly contested license to construct a casino resort at Singapore’s Marina Bay. The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino opened in 2010 at a rumored cost of $5.5 billion.
In the 2000s, Sheldon Adelson began to lend his influence and wealth to political candidates of his liking. Originally a Democrat, Adelson became a Republican as his wealth increased. He became dissatisfied with paying higher tax rates and clashed with trade unions, both of which were supported by Democrats. In 2004, Adelson contributed $250,000 to the second inaugural of George W. Bush. In 2008, he became the principal backer of Freedom’s Watch, a now defunct political advocacy group established to counter the influence of George Soros and other Democratic-leaning billionaires. In 2010, Adelson donated $1 million to American Solutions for Winning the Future, a political action committee supporting the presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich. By February 2012, he and his wife had added an additional $10 million to Gingrich’s failed campaign. Soon after, he transferred his support to presidential nominee Mitt Romney by donating $20 million to Romney's super PAC.
The Adelsons have also given millions of dollars to various charitable organizations, many of which support Israeli and Jewish causes, including Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, and the Museum of Holocaust Art.
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