Casino Owner, Internet Poker Opponent Sheldon Adelson Sees 'Net Worth' Drop By Billions
Has Also Set Record For Campaign Contributions, According To Report
Casino owner, hyper-aggressive Republican campaign donor and web poker adversary Sheldon Adelson has fallen to 12th on Forbes’ list of America’s richest people, with a “net worth” of $20.5 billion. Adelson was listed as having $24.9 billion in a March ranking.
Despite losing some of his value for the moment, the 79-year-old has set a new record for political donations, Politico reported on Saturday. He has shipped more than $70 million so far to the Grand Old Party, and could give another $100 million in an effort to kick President Barack Obama, and other top democrats, out of power.
His wealth on paper has fluctuated greatly over the recent years. In 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that he lost about 93 percent of his “investments” — or about $30 billion. However, it didn’t take long for the casino magnate to look flush again.
Adelson told Politico in the rare interview that he donates so much because others do too.
His casino company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., has not opposed legalizing online poker, but Adelson himself has stated that he’s “morally opposed” to such betting, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported late last year. Sands’ main competitors in the industry, such as MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp., are seeking to run web poker in Nevada.
Adelson, described as a “self-made” businessman by Forbes, has been a big investor in the booming gambling markets overseas. Asia has yielded huge profits for his company.
The brick-and-mortar gambling market in the region dwarfs the worldwide online poker market. Web poker would likely be the only online real-money gambling allowed in the U.S., if a federal bill ever comes to pass. On the state level, Nevada is poker-only right now.
Last year, Las Vegas Sun editor Brian Greenspun blasted Adelson over his web gambling position, writing that ordinary Nevadans “don’t have Asia to promise them vast riches.”
Earlier this year, Adelson said that he’d testify on Capitol Hill against casino games on the web.
Lawyer I. Nelson Rose, who has testified on the issue before, told Card Player that he doesn’t see Adelson making much of a difference: “Casino insiders know Adelson’s politics. He is so conservative and such an avid Republican that he blames President Obama for the Las Vegas recession, which started under President Bush. But now everyone knows that he supports Newt Gingrich, which means his political opinions are irrelevant.”
Before backing Mitt Romney, Adelson was shelling out millions to Gingrich while he was still seeking the Republican nod. While becoming the largest campaign contributor in history, Adelson has also been working on his latest project: a mammoth casino in Spain.
There’s more to the mix of good and bad news. The college dropout has been under federal investigation for possible bribery in his Macau business. The company has denied engaging in any corruption. Adelson told Politico that he’s under fire because of his anti-Obama stance.
Despite all the noise elsewhere and opposition to web poker, Adelson’s Venetian Casino on the Las Vegas Strip recently upgraded its already massive live poker room.
Photo of Adelson in Macau, China — via Reuters
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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