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America’s Greediest: Sheldon Adelson, Who Hates Gambling (Unless He’s Profiting From It)

Memo Pad Politics

America’s Greediest: Sheldon Adelson, Who Hates Gambling (Unless He’s Profiting From It)


Among the most venerable Yuletide traditions is the annual appeal on behalf of the “neediest cases,” which has spread nationwide since it first appeared in the New York Times so long ago.

More than a century later we still have the poor with us, of course, and the rich, not to mention the unspeakably super-duper-rich – many of whom comport themselves in ways that likewise provoke public concern, especially in an era of growing inequality and impoverishment.

National Memo editor-in-chief Joe Conason believes the time has come to revive a somewhat less charitable tradition that he and his late colleague, the great progressive journalist Jack Newfield, established at The Village Voice during an earlier era of avarice:  “The Greediest Cases.”

This holiday season we will feature a series of profiles of America’s Greediest Cases, and we encourage readers to nominate deserving public figures in the worlds of business, government, media, entertainment, and sports who exemplify the grasping materialism and rank hypocrisy of our time.

No list of America’s greediest would be complete without the nation’s 11th richest man, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Adelson, who serves as chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, is worth an estimated $28.5 billion. While he has profited quite handsomely from gambling, however, he is not eager to share the wealth that the industry has bestowed upon him. That’s why a man who made more than $25 billion from casinos in the past three years alone has become the public face and the checkbook of the anti-online gaming lobby.

According to Adelson, gambling online — currently legal in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey, and being debated in at least a half-dozen other states — is “a societal train wreck waiting to happen.” That’s how the 80-year-old casino mogul described it in a June column for Forbes, in which he declared that “as a father, grandfather, citizen and patriot of this great country, I am adamantly opposed to the legalization and proliferation of online casino gaming.”

In that overwrought essay, Adelson lays out his moral opposition to the industry, terming it “a toxin which all good people ought to resist,” and warning that it could bring a “plague” to American society by allowing “underage children” or “people betting under the influence of drugs” to pick up gambling and ruin their financial futures. Of course, if this sounds like something that could also happen at one of Adelson’s brick-and-mortar casinos, that’s because it is.

Adelson insists that he could make even more money from online gambling — boasting that his popular brands “would be very effective competitors in this market place” — but it is simply not worth the moral cost.

This may be a good time to mention that Adelson earned the vast majority of his wealth through his casinos in Macau –where he  allegedly gained licenses for those establishments with help from organized crime, and by using his vast political connections to kill congressional legislation that would have punished China for human rights abuses. It will always be difficult for Sheldon Adelson to claim the moral high ground, but on questions of gambling it is basically impossible. Instead, common sense suggests that Adelson is less concerned with protecting the poor addict who could “click [his] mouse and lose [his] house,” as he put it in his Forbes op-ed, and more concerned with exerting his influence on any reform that affects the gambling industry.

Henry Decker

Henry Decker was formerly the Managing Editor of The National Memo. He is currently an Online Associate at MRCampaigns.

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  1. Dominick Vila December 19, 2013

    When everything else fails, and we are incapable to come up with new products, services, or processes to create jobs and improve our ability to compete, the only options left – according to the GOP – are gambling and warfare. Excesses and reliance on brutal force did not work out very well for the Romans and every other empire in history, it will not work out very well for us, if we allow the GOP to get its way.

    1. gvette December 19, 2013

      Dominick. just for fun, Andy Cumo, NY states governor,
      has just passed, gambling in NY state. He wants casinos built around the
      state. Last time I checked, he is a democrate.

      1. latebloomingrandma December 19, 2013

        Will those profits be going directly into Andy’s pocket?

        1. gvette December 19, 2013

          I’ll assume you’re being sarcastic. I’ll return it. Mostly it’ll go to support NY city.

    2. TZToronto December 19, 2013

      I walked through the Palazzo and the Venetian on my way to the Mirage a couple of weeks ago. Looks like the same Christmas decorations he had last year. I won’t give him any of my money.

      1. Dominick Vila December 19, 2013

        The biggest casualty, when it comes to Christmas, is that celebrating the birth of Christ has been replaced by a materialistic ritual that has very little to do with what we are purportedly observing.

    3. sealbeams December 19, 2013

      The only hope we have is to stop supporting the two party system. Obama has been no more than an extension of the Bush Agenda. Gitmo, Afghanistan and his gift to insurance companies with ACA. No attempt for single payer even when the Dems had both houses. I share your concerns but see little difference in the two parties.

      1. Independent1 December 19, 2013

        Gift to insurance companies?? By requiring that they totally rethink their scandalous business model?? By preventing them from being able to dictate who they will and won’t insure?? By putting a cap on the percent of premium they can devote toward profits? By preventing them from having lifetime caps on how much they will cover so when someone is really sick they can drop their coverage, leaving them with possibly hundreds of thousands in medical bills? What planet do you live on?? It clearly isn’t this one!!!

        And Obama has tried several time to close down Gitmo only to be blocked by the GOP – refusing to let him move the prisoners to jails in America (and to be quite candid – if there really are dangerous terrorists there, why would we ever move them anywhere else when we would have no control over whether or not some foreign country let them go so they could plan more attacks on America???).

        And I won’t even get into Afghanistan, because like most Americans, you obviously have no clue about what would have been at stake if we had just cut and run leaving Afghanistan for the Taliban and al Qaeda to retake again with no resistance whatsoever. I’ll just chalk that comment up to total ignorance of the facts.

        And as far as not seeing any difference in the two parties, you really must be living in never never land: one party is hellbent on destroying America and everything it ever stood for with MONEY being it’s only concern. A party that has virtually never accomplished anything positive for America – a party that has fought tooth and nail to resist the creation of Social Security, Medicare, corporations providing pension plans, 401ks, virtually any employee benefit, and aside from pushing for the interstate highway system when a man who wasn’t really a true Republican was in office (Eisenhower), has DONE NOTHING to improve America’s infrastructure, national parks or anything other than their own pockebook;

        while the other party has done virtually the opposite; has fought tirelessly over the past 80 years for the middle class and working people. The party that’s fought hard to get us Social Security and Medicare and corporations that had to provide some type of benefits for their workers, including pensions, 401ks, vacation time and on and on. The party that also pushed for Medicare and Medicaid and help for those in difficult times. The party that’s the only reason why America doesn’t resemble Somalia – with millions more homeless on the streets because they would have no retirement income and with people dying much younger because they wouldn’t have any healthcare when they stopped working.

        I’m sorry but it just boggles my mind that there are really people such as yourself that are just so utterly clueless and can make comments that are so out of touch with reality!!!

        1. sealbeams December 19, 2013

          I don’t take offense to your comment because I knew from the first comment you do not have a clue of what the reality is. You can forget all the BS about requiring anything from insurance companies. Why do we need them? Would they be involved if there wasn’t a profit? What planet you live on is not important. It is important to try and stay awake.
          Your Gov’t can’t even decide whether the Military or civil courts should deal with these alleged terrorists. How long can we hold people with out even any charge. We have maximum security prisons in the US that have nave been broken out of.. How much security do you need?
          Afghanistan will be the same centuries from now. If you were paying attention you would know that the Taliban doesn’t have to retake anything. The never lost it. We will just continue to kill innocent people including women and children. Six more American kids killed in a plane crash yesterday. I hope one of the wasn’t your kid. The sad part is that they didn’t die fighting for their country. They died because of the run amuck military industrial complex of the US that is trying to police the world. Fact.
          Trying to compare politics today with what existed 50-60 years ago is Ludicrous. If that is a fact, I would say that the Dems are where the GOP was 50 years ago. I would agree that without the new deal, SS, medicare workmans comp and many other program, we have the Dems to thank. This mess we are in was started by Reagan He is still the GOPs hero.
          The reason this boggles your mind is because you are still brainwashed into thinking Politicians work for you. I’m 72 and a liberal. I lived through a lot of this. Was a Dem until 15 years ago. You should consider tapering off the main stream news media. Maybe therapy would help. When you complete that, I have more for you.

          1. Independent1 December 19, 2013

            You sound a bit bitter. I’m sorry to hear that. Just for your info, I’m a bit older than you and definitely not pleased with the turn in politics especially since Reagan was in office.

            I have to agree with you that Reagan is the main culprit of the problems facing America today, in fact, I’ve come to believe that Reagan is America’s worst president ever, despite the absolute disaster for America that Bush Jr. was.

            However, despite all that, I’ve taken some courage over the past 5 years from the fact that despite all the negative and obstructionism that the GOP has put up, Barak Obama has accomplished more over these past 5 years than any president in American history.

            Let me just give you some reasons why I say that:

            Despite severe GOP opposition, Obama followed through with the auto bailout and stimulus, which virtually every non right-wing economist confirms is all that kept America from falling into a 2nd GOP created depression. But in addition to that, he saved the fabric of America’s manufacturing sector which today is seeing profits it hadn’t seen since Clinton was in office. And on top of that, the auto industry has returned more than 150 billion in tax dollars that would have been lost, making the 10 billion or so America will end up paying for rescuing it, the best investment America has ever made (remember that 150 billion plus will continue to grow each year as the auto industry keeps paying back).

            Obama followed through fully on his promise to get us out of Iraq, not only probably saving hundreds of our soldiers’ lives but also billions of dollars that would have been added to the deficit.

            Not only has America’s deficit spending fallen faster over the past 5 years under Obama than at any time since Truman was in office right after WWII, but America’s debt to GDP ratio has also fallen faster than at any other time as America’s GDP has risen faster than the debt due to the economy recovering such that the GDP is up over 2 trillion dollars in less than 2 years (from about 14.7 trillion to 16.9 trillion). And despite the lies of the GOP, America’s debt to GDP ratio which is now under 75% is the lowest of any similar industrialized nation on the planet virtually all of which run debt to GDP ratios of over 80% (you don’t count debt a country owes to itself in computing the debt to GDP).

            And Obama has pushed some important initiatives that really get very little press: for example; he started a war on fraud in the healthcare and defense sectors which have brought more crooks to justice and recovered more fraudulently charged monies into the government coffers than any two previous presidents (over $5 billion). He also used his executive powers to cut banks out of the college loan lending process which has allowed hundreds of thousands more HS graduates to be able to afford college.

            Despite distortions spewed by the GOP, Obama’s administration has deported more troublesome illegal aliens (those committing crimes including defrauding the government) than any previous president, and more than twice most previous presidents.

            I could go on for quite some time but I’ll mention just one other positive: despite the GOP’s every effort (and they voiced publicly that they were going everything they could to make him fail), Obama turned around the disastrous job loss slide that was going on when Bush left the White House (800,000+ job losses/month), within three months and
            and had the economy creating more jobs than it was losing in less than a year; such that there have been over 46 months of continuing job creation with over 8 million jobs having been created. That’s as many jobs in 4+ years as were created during Bush Jr’s disastrous 8 years in office.

            And finally, I don’t own a TV or radio so all my news information comes from selected on line sources which gives me a cross section of the biased news media. So I do a lot of research to verify news items I come across on line.
            Have very happy holidays!!

          2. I Zheet M'Drawz December 20, 2013

            How DARE you confuse people with facts!

          3. Independent1 December 19, 2013

            I think I may have missed the implication of your comment about insurance companies: Why do we need them?

            I think you’ll find that there are many posters on the NM who would prefer to have a single-payer insurance system in America – me included. But to be quite honest, 2009 in the midst of a Great Recession was not the time to destroy another industry, private sector insurance, and throw hundreds of thousands or maybe over a million more people out of work; doing something like that could have actually thrown America into another depression.

            ACA isn’t perfect but it is much better than what was the existing system, and once America gets further back on its feet, will be a better springboard for the country to move to a single-payer system, than was the case back in 2009/10.

          4. sealbeams December 21, 2013

            Maybe. At the same time we bailed out the big banks and wall street and continued to fund our largest expense the Military. I’m not saying we had much choice while being in the middle of two wars. The problem here is that when we get involved in these wars, we never leave. Japan,60+ years. South Korea 50+ years. Philippines etc. on and on. How much money is the US paying private security forces in Iraq as we speak? I guess that’s better than our kids.
            I’m a socialist and like Obama. He is a very intelligent articulate human being. There is no doubt the GOP has hammered him at every corner. They hate him so much that they are willing to alter their own beliefs just to disagree with him. I don’t know how he keeps his cool. I think he needs to fight fire with fire. He needs to be at least as tough as the GOP. I was proud of him when he stood his ground and didn’t let the GOP extort him when they shut the Gov’t down. I would like to see more of that.
            Happy holidays and New Year.

          5. Independent1 December 21, 2013

            I agree completely with your comments. It’s really hard to fathom why more Americans can’t see how hard Obama has been working to bring better things to America. It’s my feeling that he’s done more for our country than any other president in history; and yet there are so many millions who seem to believe he hasn’t accomplished a thing (and that’s aside from those who believe that for political reasons).

            We can only hope that at some point that at least some will take their blinders off and start to realize just how many things Obama has accomplished despite the total obstructionism that he’s faced ever since he took office.

            Happy Holidays and a happy & healthy New Year to you too!!

  2. latebloomingrandma December 19, 2013

    Adelson’s rationale would be ha-ha funny if not so pathetic.

  3. howa4x December 19, 2013

    This article glosses over the organized crime involvement in Las Vegas. All the casinos were originally built using the teamsters south west pension fund controlled by Mob bosses n o interest loans so it is interesting he hates unions because with out them there would be no Sands casino. Most these ultra rich suffer from a psychosis called Midas syndrome where they feel there is never enough money they could make. Also there is a felling on the part of these people that somehow they did this alone and expect others to do the same. They want America to become a feudal empire for themselves. This is strange because some of the worst social deviants in this group like the Koch bros, and the Walton’s got uber wealthy from inherited money, Adelson’s from the Mob. Romney from a father that was president of a car company so few of this group started out in poverty or had to work their way up from scratch, but there are some. There is no reason they should act like spoiled children

    1. jointerjohn December 19, 2013

      Of course they act like spoiled children. As you accurately pointed out Romney, the Walton heirs, and the Koch brothers are and have always been exactly that……spoiled children.

    2. TZToronto December 19, 2013

      So you’re saying, “They didn’t build this.” Funny how they take offense at such an idea.

      1. Allan Richardson December 19, 2013

        Except for Robinson Crusoe before he met Friday, NOBODY has built a business alone.

    3. Allan Richardson December 19, 2013

      Not many know this, but the early casino industry was also heavily financed by the LDS Church and bankers who belonged to the church. I do not know whether they disapprove of gambling as a sin, but since they consider so many other forms of entertainment sinful (e.g. alcohol and even CAFFEINE), it seems like a good guess. But that generation of Mormon bankers apparently had no problem profiting from the providing of opportunities for others to sin.

      1. howa4x December 19, 2013

        good point

  4. ExRadioGuy15 December 19, 2013

    Who said this? “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
    If you’re thinking John Kenneth Galbraith, you are correct. That quote dovetails with what I’ve been saying about “Cons” for quite some time now: “Conservatives are ‘Conservatives’ in every way except two: the acquisition of wealth and the acquisition of power. On those two subjects, they become ‘Raging Liberals'”.. As we’ve seen since 2001, they’re up for ANYTHING that allows them to accumulate more wealth and power….legal or not, moral or not. Mr. Adelson is the personification of that. So, when you hear and/or see a “Conservative” talking about anything, just keep this sad fact in mind: they’re willing to abandon “Conservatism” if it’ll make them more rich and powerful….

    1. TZToronto December 19, 2013

      So . . . what you’re saying is that they’re hypocrites? Not exactly a revelation, but it’s good to know.

      1. ExRadioGuy15 December 19, 2013

        Yes…Cons are unabashedly Republicans and one of the 10 Tenets of the GOP is hypocrisy. The other nine: bigotry, elitism, Fascism, greed, corruption, incompetence, arrogance, insanity and unintentional comedy. And, the GOP seem to take great pains each and every day to prove me correct on all of those when they should endeavor to do the opposite…

        1. Allan Richardson December 19, 2013

          Policies based upon the current philosophy of the Republicans, unfortunately, would take us much farther back than Fascism. I’m thinking of that OTHER F-word: FEUDALISM. Serfs on the farms and manors, owned by their “lords” would be 99% of the population; another 0.99% at various levels in the heirarchy, owning people under them and being owned by people above them; and 0.01% at the extreme top of the heap, including a monarch who owns everyone else and everything else.

          1. ExRadioGuy15 December 20, 2013

            That’s a good point, Allan. However, if you drill down on the two, they’re not really all that much different. Feudalism is simply an “old school” term for Fascism. The 14 defining characteristics of Fascism are definitely applicable to Feudalism.

          2. Allan Richardson December 21, 2013

            I agree. The primary difference is in the physical environment. Feudalism flourished in an agrarian economy with very high illiteracy (in fact, LITERACY, in Latin of course, was a way to prove one’s priesthood in court), using a vast army of serfs to do low tech, hard labor agriculture. Fascism applied the ideas of feudalism to an industrial economy, which required (and of course, already possessed) a functionally literate population capable of running heavy industry. This required different psychological methods to keep this smarter population under control than was needed for superstitious, ignorant peasants.

            However, Hitler and the Nazis used knightly imagery in their propaganda, harking back to the mythical Teutonic golden age depicted by Wagner, and Mussolini called his regime the new Roman Empire. So fascism could be defined as an industrial-age revival of feudalism, with different tools to maintain power.

          3. ExRadioGuy15 December 21, 2013

            Agreed, Allan. I guess it had never dawned on me (and I don’t know why) that Fascism is simply the modern version of feudalism.
            BTW: I wrote a Facebook note called: “Godwin’s Law nullification” because a few in the GOP claim that my correctly pointing out that the GOP are Fascists was using the “same as the Nazis” point that generally ends discussion threads and makes you the “loser” of the argument.
            I wrote that, not only do I compare what the GOP does and says to the 14 defining characteristics (DCs) of Fascism, I also detail the three major differences between the Nazis and today’s GOP…to wit:
            1. today’s GOP lacks the single dictatorial voice the Nazis had with Adolf Hitler, which, you could argue, is “Socialism” (LMAO);
            2. the Nazis lacked a strong opposition political party while the GOP have the Demos to oppose them (and, just imagine how bad things would be right now if there were no Democratic Party);
            3. while the GOP “Civil War” tragicomically rages on, the Nazis violently put down the “Brownshirts” insurrection they faced. In fact, the Nazis regularly arrested and executed those who spoke out against the regime. And, they’d use their control of the mass media (newspapers and radio back then) to announce the execution of the “traitors”, which “killed two birds with one stone”: first, they eliminated opposition voices and, second, by publicizing it, they sent a message to other “traitors” that their opposition to the Fascist regime would not be tolerated and would lead to their deaths….
            Now, here’s the link to Feudalism: monarchies used to do the EXACT same thing, arresting and executing “traitors” in public to send that message. Yet another instance where Fascism is modern-day Feudalism….

  5. I Zheet M'Drawz December 20, 2013

    Yeah but look at the guy. All he has is money & he can’t take it with him.

    1. Independent1 December 22, 2013

      One more lifetime totally wasted!

  6. Sep_Arch December 20, 2013

    You forgot the part about when he built the Venetian casino for $1.5B, he stiffed contractors for over $300,000,000 they were entitled to, which he refused to pay. They put the largest lien in history on Sheldon’s property, which for ordinary mortals like us could result in the sale of the property to pay your debts or the loss of a Certificate of Occupancy or operations for the business.

    But spineless politicians let him get away with it. Guess he figured if Pharaoh didn’t need to pay his slaves to build the pyramids, why should Sheldon pay for what he gets?

  7. Tim James November 4, 2015

    Sheldon Adelson exposed. The truth. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRq_TgQloPI


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