Sheldon Adelson, the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands and a major donor to Republican politicians, died following complications related to his cancer treatment, his company said. He was 87.
Adelson took a leave of absence from Sands last week to resume treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which his aides first disclosed in late February 2019.
He rose from a hardscrabble childhood in Boston to become one of the world’s richest men as founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) He was Sands’ first employee, which has since grown to 50,000 employees.
“His impact on the industry will be everlasting,” the company said. Sands’ shares opened slightly higher.
Adelson was born August 4, 1933, in Boston. His father, an immigrant from Lithuania, drove a cab, and his mother, whose family came from Wales, ran a small knitting service. He and his siblings slept on the floor of the family’s tenement apartment.
Adelson often touted his rags-to-riches story and his determination to claw his way out of poverty.
At age 12, he was selling newspapers on street corners in Boston. By 16, he had invested in candy machines. After a stint in the Army, he continued to run businesses, selling condominiums, working as a mortgage broker, taking a turn as a venture capitalist.
“Despite being the grandson of a Welsh coal miner and the son of a Boston cab driver, I’ve had the remarkable experience of being part of almost 50 different businesses in my more than 70-year business career,” he wrote in the Washington Post piece touting Trump.
His big break came in the late 1970s, when he launched a computer trade show known as Comdex. He sold it in 1995 for nearly $900 million, parlaying that convention business into a casino empire that comprises the properties in Asia, and the upscale Venetian and Palazzo resorts in Las Vegas. His venture became the world’s largest casino company.
His properties ranged from the opulent Venetian casino resort in Las Vegas, where visitors can ride in gondolas, to a string of lucrative casinos in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macao.
In October 2020, the company told multiple outlets that it was in “very early discussions” about a possible sale of its Las Vegas properties. He sold Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania in 2019.
In person, Adelson was instantly recognizable for his thinning patch of bright red hair and the electric scooter he rode everywhere. He suffered from peripheral neuropathy, a condition that made walking difficult.
Calling his achievements in the hospitality industry “well-documented,” the company said that Adelson’s vision “transformed the industry, changed the trajectory of the company he founded, and reimagined tourism” in Las Vegas, Macao and Singapore.