LAS VEGAS — Sheldon Adelson, who rose from a modest start as the son of an immigrant taxi driver to become a billionaire Republican powerbroker with a casino empire and influence on international politics, has died. He was 87.
Adelson died from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Las Vegas Sands announced Tuesday. The company announced last week that Adelson had stepped away from his role as CEO and chairman to resume treatments for the cancer, which he first announced in 2019.
In business, Adelson transformed a landmark Las Vegas casino that was once a hangout of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack into a towering Italian-inspired complex, trailblazed a trend of turning business conventions into a lucrative industry and left his mark on some of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities.
“If you do things differently, success will follow you like a shadow,” he said in 2014.
In politics, Adelson was a record-breaking campaign donor who had the ear of domestic and international leaders, including President Donald Trump. His advocacy redefined U.S. relations with Israel during the Trump administration and bolstered ties that U.S. politicians and American Jewish teenagers had to the country.
Adelson, the son of Jewish immigrants, once said at a gambling conference that he hoped his legacy would not be his glitzy casinos or hotels but his impact in Israel, where he had a deep and lifelong attachment.
In his modest office wedged among the casinos of the Las Vegas Strip, Adelson hosted top Republican Party strategists and candidates and helped ensure that uncritical support of Israel became a pillar of the GOP platform. That was never more visible than when the Trump administration relocated the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.
The inflammatory move had been adamantly opposed by Palestinians and was long a priority for Adelson, who sat front and center at the ceremony in Jerusalem with his wife, Miriam.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Adelson “will forever be remembered” for his work strengthening ties between the U.S. and Israel.