Sheldon Adelson, influential GOP supporter of Israel and builder of iconic casinos, dies at 87

by Laura Mize · Jan 12th, 2021 2:33 pm
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Last Updated Jan 13th, 2021 at 10:22 am

Sheldon Adelson — a Jewish billionaire who was a major influence on U.S. policy toward Israel and who created an international casino empire that built two of Las Vegas' most iconic casinos — died at age 87 from complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma treatment.

Adelson grew up in a poor Boston neighborhood, the son of Jewish immigrants, and cycled through a series of entrepreneurial ventures before founding Las Vegas Sands Corp. and building highly successful casinos in the U.S. and Asia. His Las Vegas casinos include The Venetian and The Palazzo.

Forbes estimated his 2018 worth at $35.5 billion, and placed him at number 15 on its list of richest Americans. Over the past several years, Adelson came to be regarded as the most influential donor to Republicans. He staunchly supported the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recently purchased the former Tel Aviv home of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel. The $67 million deal may make it more difficult for future presidents to return the embassy to Tel Aviv.

He also helped pay for members of Congress to visit Israel and "birthright" trips for young Americans with Jewish heritage to do the same. Adelson also strongly supported the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Israeli-American Council.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Adelson "will forever be remembered" for his work to bolster the Israeli-American relationship.

Congressional Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy also praised Adelson.

"His life made him a fearless advocate for freedom and entrepreneurship and a source of counsel and support to a generation of conservatives, including me," said House Minority Leader McCarthy.


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