Miriam Adelson’s Republican Funding in Spotlight, as Las Vegas Sands Returns to Growth

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The Adelson family, owners of the Las Vegas Sands casino empire, has long been a key contributor to many a Republican party politician in the U.S. They spent more than $200 million between 2016 and 2020, including contributions to former President Donald Trump (pictured with the Adelson’s in 2019).

Sheldon Adelson died in 2021, and his widow Miriam has been at the helm of this influence since then. The political spending has seen a significant reduction since Sheldon’s death.

Now that Sands has rebounded into profitability and issued largest shareholder Miriam Adelson with an $87 million dividend in the process, speculation is that the Adelson trust will be a big funder again as the nation heads into the election cycle.

Las Vegas Sands is based in the U.S., but currently is not operating any casinos nationally after selling its Las Vegas interests in 2021. It has instead focused its efforts on the Macau and Singapore markets, which have seen sluggish recovery from COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Sands is, however, plotting a return to the U.S. Earlier this year, it joined the race for a downstate New York casino license with a planned casino resort at a Nassau County stadium in Long Island.

Key Figures and Billionaire Influence

The multibillion dollar Las Vegas Sands has kept the Adelsons on the list of the world’s richest billionaires for decades. Miriam Adelson was the 35th-richest person in the world in 2023 and the wealthiest casino owner, with an estimated net worth of $35 billion, according to Forbes.

That amount of money will certainly attract political suitors, and the Adelsons haven’t been shy about funding in the past.

Former President Donald Trump, current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) have all received chunks of the $200 million that Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam handed out between 2016 and 2020.

In 2021, however, the Adelson trust donated $37 million to Republican candidates, a significant a drop from previous years. In 2022, that dropped even further to $23 million. But it was still enough to put them in the top 20 individual donators of that year’s political cycle, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

In an interesting aside, that Las Vegas Sun article also mentions fellow Las Vegas-based billionaire Robert Bigelow as a key Republican funder. The aerospace tycoon has often been mentioned in the debate around the recent congressional hearings into the UFO or UAP phenomenon, including allegations that the Department of Defense awarded him and others a secret $22 million grant to investigate widely debunked paranormal conspiracies at Skinwalker Ranch in Utah.

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Recovery and Dividends

Returning to confirmed reality, the Adelson’s cash flow will have been boosted when Sands announced the resumption of its dividend in July after its positive Q2 report.

That marks a potential rebound for the family’s foundation. The resumption resulted in Dr. Adelson receiving about $87 million for the second quarter – a substantial amount, but still far less than what shareholders were getting before the pandemic.

In 2022, the company had an operating loss after Asian customers were much slower to return to normal visitation habits in Macau.

Sands’ return profitability has been driven by increased visitation this year to its casinos in Macau and Singapore, including the distinctive and ultra-luxury Marina Bay Sands.

Between them, Sands’ casinos resorts generated revenues of $2.5 billion for the second quarter, double what they were a year ago.

The company’s executives have indicated that business has not yet fully returned to pre-pandemic levels either, suggesting room for further growth.

“In Macau, we were pleased to see the ongoing recovery now underway in all gaming and nongaming segments progress during the quarter,” said Sands CEO and Chairman Rob Goldstein in July.

The Future of Adelson’s Donations

With her casino empire rebounding, speculation is high that Dr. Adelson will resume her significant contributions to the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential candidate.

Trump, who bestowed Dr. Adelson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her philanthropic and humanitarian work, has maintained a close relationship with the Adelsons.

Miriam and Sheldon were given front seats at the opening of the U.S embassy in Jerusalem in 2018. That’s after they helped campaign for it to be moved there from Tel Aviv.

There is no certainty, however, that Trump will get Adelson’s money, despite being the oddsmakers’ favorite for the Republican nomination. Presidential hopeful and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was photographed dining with the casino billionaire during a visit to Israel in April.

Adelson’s money isn’t only going to politics.

“They have also contributed to countless other Jewish philanthropic endeavors, including Jewish day schools and the Jewish community of Las Vegas,” said Jonathon Sarna, professor of Jewish history.

Under Miriam Adelson’s leadership, Sands has been consistently lobbying to legalize gambling in Texas, and is pursuing a bid for one of three licenses to operate a casino in New York.

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