Sheldon Adelson up close

February 23, 2012 11:52 am

Just three years ago, Sheldon Adelson’s casino empire was deep in debt and facing default. But the Sands owner has bounced back, largely by investing in casinos in Macau, the booming casino market in China.

Now Adelson is reshaping the presidential race by giving $21 million to a Super PAC that is supporting Newt Gingrich and threatening to spend as much as $100 million in campaign contributions to try and unseat President Obama.

Not many people had even heard of Adelson until recently. He has largely operated behind the scenes. But at 78 years old, the billionaire has stepped into the spotlight with large campaign donations. Forbes magazine has a largely positive profile of Adelson that is worth reading to see how he operates.

Throwing bad money after bad

February 18, 2012 1:28 pm

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson plans to give another $10 million to a Super PAC that is supporting Newt Gingrich’s fast-fading presidential bid. The contribution will bring the total Adelson and his wife have given to Gingrich’s PAC to $21 million.

That’s by far the most anyone has given a single candidate. It shows how new campaign finance laws will enable rich individuals to reshape elections. It also shows how gambling money is playing a bigger and bigger role in politics at the national and state level.

The river of gambling money flowing to elected officials is a big reason why state lawmakers across the country are suddenly throwing their support behind casinos. It’s not as if the public is demanding more casinos. It’s just pols responding to the campaign money flowing into their coffers from the gambling industry.

Adelson covering his bets

February 5, 2012 3:10 pm

When it comes to owning, er, backing a GOP presidential candidate, it looks like casino mogul Sheldon Adelson plans to split his hand.

Adelson and his wife have given $10 million to Newt Gingrich’s fading presidential campaign. But the New York Times reports that Adelson has made clear to Mitt Romney’s camp that he will put some big bucks in his campaign war chest if Gingrich drops out. 

Betting on Romney would appear to be an odd choice for Adelson. After all Romney is a Mormon, and that religion strictly prohibits gambling. But Adelson opposes online gambling, and so does Romney. Gingrich remains the best candidate for gamblers, but that didn’t translate into many votes in Nevada, the gambling mecca. Beyond gambling, Adelson seems more intent on removing Barack Obama from the White House and installing a president who will be a hawk when it comes to supporting Israel.

Newt’s casino pal under investigation

January 27, 2012 4:01 pm

Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who along with his wife has given $10 million to Newt Gingrich’s GOP presidential bid, is under criminal investigation for alleged bribery of foreign officials in Macau, according to a report by ABC News.

The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been probing Adelson’s dealings in a casino territory in China. The investigation was believed to have been prompted by a separate civil lawsuit by a former executive.

ABC News reported that in that suit, the executive alleges: Adelson ordered him to keep quiet about sensitive issues at the Sands casinos on the Chinese island of Macau, including the casinos’ alleged “involvement with Chinese organized crime groups, known as Triads, connected to the junket business.” The triads — Chinese organized crime syndicates — are allegedly involved in organizing high stakes gambling junkets for wealthy Chinese travelers.

Adelson denies the allegations. But if true, the allegations offer some insights into how a major Las Vegas casino owner operates and into the type of characters Gingrich hangs around. Read previous posts on Adelson and Gingrich here and here.

Newt’s sugar mama and daddy

January 24, 2012 8:50 pm

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s wife donated $5 million to a group supporting Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. The donation makes for a nice bookend to the $5 million Adelson gave Gingrich recently. The donations to a super PAC are the most allowed by an individual.

The Adelsons are longtime supporters of the former House speaker. Gingrich backed legislation more than a decade ago to preserve tax breaks for the casino industry. The New York Times reported the following: ”Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands, also faces a federal investigation for possible violations of a federal antibribery law, relating to operations in the Chinese gambling district of Macau, the company acknowledged last year. The company has said the investigation stems from the allegations of a disgruntled former employee.”

The combined $10 million donations underscore the outsize influence that gambling money has in the halls of government. States that are contemplating legalizing casinos have been overrun with gambling industry lobbyists. At the federal level, Adelson’s company has been one of the biggest campaign contributors, according to

Unaccountable casino mogul

January 12, 2012 11:06 am

Casino owners don’t like to operate in the sunlight and Sheldon Adelson is no different.

The Las Vegas Sands owner doesn’t want to discuss the reasons why he donated $5 million to PAC that is tied to Newt Gingrich. The billionaire casino mogul has turned down several media requests.

A source close to Adelson told CBS news that the casino owner doesn’t want anything in return for the $5 million donation. Another source told the New York Times that Adelson was merely helping a friend.

“His friend needed his help,” said a close associate of both men, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid drawing Mr. Adelson’s ire. “It’s more than anything else a loyalty thing. And he believes strongly in his platform and in Newt’s candidacy.”

Gee, sounds like Adelson is as loyal as Lassie. Let’s get real: No one gives someone $5 million just because they like them. The ties between the two men go back years.

When he was House speaker, Gingrich helped Adelson combat union organizing efforts at his gaudy Venetian casino in Vegas. Gingrich also backed legislation in 1998 to preserve tax deductions beneficial to the industry, The Times reported. Adelson has donated millions to Gingrich in the past and let him use his corporate jet.

Hey, what are friends for.  Come to think of it, there is nothing like having a friend in the White House.

Adelson’s company is currently under federal investigation for possible violations of a federal anti-bribery law, relating to operations in Macau, the Chinese gambling district. The company said the investigation was prompted by allegations from a disgruntled former employee.

Casino money and presidential politics

January 9, 2012 7:49 pm

The casino industry is well known for spreading big bucks around Washington and state houses to help influence gambling legislation. Now, one of the biggest casino moguls is trying to influence the outcome of the race for the Republican nomination for president. The move also shows how the Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance has made it easier for rich donors to influence races, as The New York Times reports.

Sheldon Adelson has contributed $5 million to a PAC that is tied to Newt Gingrich. The PAC is plans to air a 28-minute film and TV commercials attacking Mitt Romney for reaping big financial rewards at Bain Capital, which often invested in struggling companies that laid off workers as part of the restructuring.

So far, none of the reporting on Adelson’s role has pointed out that his casinos probably do just as much damage to people’s livlihoods as anything Bain ever did. Read this 2008 profile of Adelson in The New Yorker to better understand how one of the most influential casino owners operates and the political clout he wields.