Sheldon Adelson, the global gaming magnate, the political mentor of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the man who invested millions of dollars in Israel and the United States to support the conservative cause, has died on Monday at the age of 87 after fighting for years against a Hodgkin lymphoma.
After profiting from the casino business in Macau, in a good fight with the other king of the game, Stanley Ho, the American Jewish billionaire also tried to try his luck in Spain, with the controversial Eurovegas project, a fiasco in the file of the Executive of Mariano Rajoy, who embraced the investment with joy, but then picked up moorings before his excessive demands.
But Adelson’s empire was not limited to the world of roulette or baccarat, as he used his fortune to alter the media landscape in Israel and promote political candidacies in the US For both Netanyahu and Donald Trump, Adelson was a prop.
His political bets – his decisive involvement in the scrum of power cannot be called otherwise – were viewed with suspicion in both countries, as they constitute the symbol of the landing of big capital in the political arena. Adelson, however, had a free hand to play politics after the US Supreme Court sanctioned the participation of companies in electoral campaigns in 2010.
One of the immediate beneficiaries of his support was President George W. Bush (2001-2009), who after learning of the death described Adelson as a friend, “an American patriot, a staunch defender of Israel and a generous benefactor of causes of charity, especially medical research and the Jewish legacy “, as well as a contributor to the main Jewish lobbies in the US Netanyahu expressed his grief in a statement.
“He was a wonderful friend of ours [Netanyahu and his wife, Sara] and a champion of the Jewish cause, the Jewish State and the alliance between Israel and the United States. The warmth of his heart, the clarity of his thought and the determination of his actions were truly exceptional. ”
Sheldon Gary Adelson was born on August 4, 1933 in the Jewish ghetto of Dorchester (Boston), the son of an Ashkenazi Jewish taxi driver from Lithuania and a seamstress, with whom he shared the only room in the house.
He started doing business at age 12, borrowing money from his uncle to buy a newsstand in Boston. The vending machine business made him a millionaire at age 30, not without regretting, as he later recounted in numerous interviews, the number of closed doors that he encountered along the way because of his religion and low social background.
In the eighties and nineties of the last century, he forged himself as a tycoon in Las Vegas. In 1989 he bought the dilapidated Sands Casino in Nevada City, and a decade later he was leading the global gambling business, with notable interests in Macau and Singapore. In 2018, his fortune was valued at more than $ 36 billion.
In Israel, he dynamited the media balance by creating the free newspaper Hayom in 2007, with a decidedly pro-Netanyahu editorial line, then leader of the opposition, to the point that prominent members of the Likud, and theoretical partners of Netanyahu although not always friendly, sometimes compared the gazette with Pravda.
In 2017, the newspaper was the protagonist of a scandal involving the telephone conversations of Netanyahu and its director, which confirmed what everyone knew: that it was an organ of expression tailored to Bibi, as the Israeli prime minister is known.
In 2014, Adelson had injected $ 200 million into the deficit newspaper, blowing up advertising rates in an attempt to weaken other media critical of Netanyahu. He could not have come to the government in 1996 without the strong support of Adelson.
An ultraconservative, a supporter of bombing Iran and a major donor to the US Republican Party, in 2016 he spent tens of millions on the Trump campaign, and was behind the scenes of some of the Republican’s most controversial decisions regarding Israel, such as the transfer of the Embassy to Jerusalem, or Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear pact with Iran.
His failed business venture in Madrid, hand in hand with the regional government of the PP, was frustrated by the excessive demands of his company, despite the fact that the regional Executive extended the red carpet before him, by changing various laws, especially gambling taxation, to guarantee a billion-dollar investment that he would have created – that was the claim of the PP Government- thousands of jobs.
In July 2013, Adelson’s company presented the macro-project in Madrid, but requested too many guarantees from Madrid and Brussels on tax advantages, and the European Commission refused.
When for the umpteenth time the Adelson company requested from La Moncloa a total shield against possible regulatory changes -if there were any, it would claim financial compensation-, the Executive of Rajoy planted himself after having deposited all the eggs in the basket of the Madrid macrocasino,