Sheldon Adelson, the CEO and chairman of Las Vegas Sands has passed away at the age of 87. Adelson had taken a leave of absence last week to restart cancer treatment. Adelson had been in poor health over the last few years and had recently been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
He leaves behind a complex legacy as a major casino resort visionary, and to those in the online gambling and political world, a divisive figure.
Online poker's biggest opponent, Sheldon Adelson, has passed away. I don't know what this means for the future of the game but I know the poker world has all types of feelings this morning.
— Pamela Maldonado (@pamelam35) January 12, 2021
A casino magnate
Adelson was the founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, starting the company in 1988. During Adelson’s tenure as the head of the company, Las Vegas Sands grew to become the largest gambling companies in the world with a market cap of $43 billion as of January 2021
The company has created some of the most prominent casino resorts in Las Vegas and Macau. In Las Vegas, the Venetian and Palazzo have become iconic casinos in Las Vegas while in recent years, Adelson has overseen Las Vegas Sands expansion into Macau with properties such as the Venetian Macao, Marina Bay Sands, Sands Cotai Central and The Parisian Macau.
The success of Las Vegas Sands led Adelson to become one of the richest people in the world, with an estimated wealth of $40 million. Alderson parlayed that wealth to become a major influencer in politics at the turn of the century and subsequently become one of the major spenders in politics in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Citizens United in 2010. This decision lead Adelson to become a major factor in the 2016 election by spending tens of millions.
In prominence and influence led to Adelson’s become a lightning rod with many citing him as an example of the dangers of nearly unlimited money in politics.
A leader of online gambling opposotion
Although Adelson’s impact in the gambling world is unquestioned, we would be remiss to mention others in the online gambling world have been widely critical of his aggressive moves to stifle the growth of online gambling in the United States
In 2014, Adelson was the force behind the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, an organization that put a focus on the negatives of online gambling — many feel in a disingenuous and hypocritical way — that aimed to stop the acceptance of online gambling across the United States.
His efforts have undoubtedly helped slow the growth of online gambling, which many believed played a part in the Department of Justice’s 2019 decision to reverse their opinion on the Wire Act. Fortunately for the online gambling world, those efforts have thus far stalled in the courts, most recently with the case between the New Hampshire Lottery and the DOJ.
In the meantime, online gambling — and especially online sports betting — has started to gain a real foothold in the United States. After New Jersey and Nevada regulated online gambling 2013, other states such as Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania have followed suit. Meanwhile, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the 1992 CAPSA law has lead to an influx of 19 states that have authorized some form of sports betting including Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
News of Adelson’s death has led to a wide range of reactions that acknowledge what he did for legalized gambling while noting that he is a polarizing figure in the online gambling world.
Gene sums it up perfectly here https://t.co/drVdoEpMdp
— Steve Ruddock (@SteveRuddock) January 12, 2021
Statement from AGA President and CEO on the passing of Las Vegas Sands founder and chairman Sheldon Adelson. https://t.co/7jvC4lyOFA
— American Gaming Association (@AmericanGaming) January 12, 2021
Good morning everyone ☀️
Let’s get after it 🚀
R.i.p. Sheldon Adelson
— Joey Ingram #PASSION ⛰ (@Joeingram1) January 12, 2021
Working in poker I all too well know the hurdles Sheldon Adelson created for US online poker. Although our ideologies did not align, in death we cease arguments and pay tribute.
Sands Corp. has employed so many here in #LasVegas. Our city remains grateful.
Rest In Peace
— Sean McCormack (@ThePokerBoss) January 12, 2021
The downstream effect of this is that you will see online poker legalized in the US.https://t.co/KuivCQ1UjU
— Jordan Leigh (@AlwaysBCoding) January 12, 2021