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Las Vegas Trade Shows, Resorts, Politics All Transformed By Adelson

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

In this Sept. 26, 2016, file photo, Chief Executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Sheldon Adelson sits with his wife Miriam waits for the presidential debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

During 40 years in Las Vegas, Sheldon Adelson transformed the trade show and resort industries and Nevada Republican politics.

Adelson, who died Monday at 87, first came into the Las Vegas market in 1979 with the creation of the Comdex trade show, a pioneering electronics show that once rivaled the Consumer Electronics Show.

Proceeds from the sale of the Comdex show in 1995 allowed Adelson to construct the Venetian and its companion Sands Expo convention center. With its convenient convention hall, multiple dining and entertainment options, and upscale hotel rooms, the Venetian became known as the first integrated resort.

“He actually did coin the phrase: the integrated resort. It was the hotel, the casino, the large convention center, a shopping mall, and other entertainment. And it is now commonplace,” said CDC Gaming Reports executive editor Howard Stutz. 

From there, Adelson was one of the first to expand into the Asian markets.

Adelson opened the first U.S. owned casino in Macau after it was turned over to Chinese rule in 2000. He also created the area known as the Cotai Strip, Stutz said.

Stutz said Adelson envisioned the area in Macau as Asia's Las Vegas Strip.

Efforts to keep the Culinary Union out of his properties led Adelson to become more involved in politics, explained Molly Ball, a political reporter for Time magazine and a former Las Vegas journalist

“He first started playing in politics at the county commission level, when he was trying to keep the unions out of his casinos,“ Ball said, "He then became involved in national politics primarily because he cared about foreign policy, and in particular cared about protecting Israel.”

Ball said Adelson may not have seen much of a return on his investment into politics until the 2016 presidential election. She noted that he didn't put any money into the presidential primary that year but did put a lot of money into the general election.

“When the general election rolled around, he was a big Trump donor and a big donor to the inaugural committee and I think when you look policy moves that have pleased him, such as the moving of the American embassy in Israel, those types of policies are a huge reward for the investment he’s made on the issues that he cares about,” she said.

In the months prior to his death, Adelson’s Las Vegas assets were put up for sale as his Las Vegas Sands company turned more of its attention to Asia.

Adelson's family also owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper.


Howard Stutz, executive editor, CDC Gaming Reports; Molly Ball, national political correspondent, Time magazine


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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.