Sheldon Adelson betting big

By Laurie Bennett

January 17, 2008 at 10:33am

Sheldon Adelson, the New York Times writes today, “may well be the richest American that most people have never heard of.”

But Republicans certainly know the name. Adelson, who personally cleared $500 million when he sold the Comdex trade show to Softbank and has since made millions more in the casino & convention industry, is a major donor to GOP causes.

In the past nine years, he has given nearly $550,000 to the national party, and thousands more to Republican congressional and Senate candidates. He is also a supporter of Freedom’s Watch and Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future.

Earlier this month, President Bush named him to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, which counsels the U.S. trade representative on foreign trade.

Mother Jones magazine has called Adelson “the right’s answer to George Soros - only richer.”

Yet the Times writes today that Adelson’s personal fortunes have dropped by more than $15 billion in recent months, as wary investors avoid casino companies that are expanding in Asia. Adelson chairs Las Vegas Sands, a publicly traded company that recently announced it had borrowed $3.7 billion to build a casino and hotel in Singapore.

Last year, the company opened the Venetian Macao in China. Its Las Vegas properties include the Sands Expo and Convention Center, the Venetian and the new Palazzo. Interviewed by USA Today about the opening of the new Las Vegas casino, Adelson said of his competitors on the strip: “We will cannibalize them.”

At age 74, the man who currently holds the No. 3 position on the Forbes list of richest Americans is still battling his way to the top.

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