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Casino Magnate Adelson Breaks Donation Record as He Backs Trump in US Election

Sheldon Adelson
Photo: Bectrigger, Wikimedia Commons

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul whose properties include The Venetian resort in Las Vegas and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, has broken the all-time record for election donations after handing Donald Trump some $250 million for his campaign.

The Israeli had already supported the incumbent president to the tune of $183 million by mid-October – breaking the previous record, and he has since topped that up to the quarter-billion mark as Americans take to the polls prior to the election result being announced (probably) on November 3.

The 87-year-old is part of the Preserve America group that is very much pro-Trump, and they have bankrolled a series of controversial adverts claiming that opponent Joe Biden is ‘too weak to lead America’.

The Adelson spend is more than double the $124 million he forked out to support Trump during the 2016 election, but is still a drop in the ocean when considering his total wealth – the casino supremo is said to be worth a handsome $32 billion.

A proud Israeli, Trump managed to woo Adelson with a series of PR moves in his homeland, notably moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to its religious heat of Jerusalem and cooling relations with Iran – instead persuading the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries to develop closer ties with Israel.

Adelson has supported Trump despite his own business empire taking a hit during the coronavirus pandemic. Earnings from his casino properties in Las Vegas and Asia have slumped, and rumours persist that the veteran is looking to sell up his American sites and instead focus on the higher yield coming from his Macau and Singapore venues.

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The Venetian in Las Vegas

For the uninitiated, Sheldon Adelson is the chairman and majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands, the largest casino company in the world that is valued at $37.5 billion.

His first foray into the industry was the Sands Hotel and Casino in Vegas, which was a favourite watering hole for Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, which he acquired in 1988, but after visiting Venice on his honeymoon three years later Adelson demanded his team create something to do justice to the watery city.

And so the Sands was demolished and replaced with the Venetian, the huge complex that features the gaming floor, a number of suites, restaurants and even its own canal system.

But rumours persist that Adelson wants to sell the Venetian along with the Sands Expo Center and the Palazzo, which market valuations suggest could change hands for as much as $6 billion.

If the transaction goes through, Adelson’s casino portfolio would focus solely on the Asian market, which accounts for some 85% of the Sands’ holding group’s annual revenue – or $13.7 billion to be more precise.

Some parts of Asia, notably Macau and Singapore, seem to be ahead of the curve in their COVID-19 recovery, and consequently the Sand’s properties there – such as Marina Bay Sands and the Venetian Macau – enjoyed something of a renaissance in the third quarter of 2020, propping up the brand’s losses in the United States.

It has been speculated that Adelson wants to increase Sands’ footprint in the Asian market, and they looked set to sign off on plans to build a new property in Japan earlier this year until the deal went sour.