What's Shel really after?

Billionaire casino magnate Shel Adelson is one of the richest men in the world. He’s a familiar figure to anyone who follows the gaming world, but he’s never exactly been a household name, until recently. Adelson has been making big headlines over the past few months by shelling out over $10 million in support of New Gingrich’s floundering presidential campaign.

Given the big numbers involved, many in the gaming world are scratching their head trying to figure out exactly what Adelson hopes to get for his money? The answer to that question may come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t been following this story closely.

It’s Not About Poker

Adelson ruffled some feathers in the online gaming world a few months back when he came out against legalizing online poker. The man who made his billions on the backs of gamblers thought that the potential for underaged gambling online was simply too high.

Skeptics countered that Adelson was worried about his Sands Las Vegas Corporation losing money from online competitors, but that’s not something that keeps Adelson up at night. The fact is that Sands makes most of its revenue from luxury properties in Macau and American revenues are just a drop in the bucket to them.

Israel Matters

For Adelson, gaming concerns pale against his most passionate interest, the State of Israel. Adelson is strong supporter of Israel and Jewish causes and that’s what’s driving his interest in the Presidential campaign. He’s extremely active in Israeli politics and even owns a newspaper there that’s been losing money for years, but is used as a political mouthpiece. Gingrich, like many other conservative Republicans, is big supporter of Israel and its current territorial claims.

Recent reports, including a very long article in this month’s Forbe’s claim that Adelson is more interested in stopping a perceived American slide towards socialism under the Obama administration. That claim seems less than believable when the same article points out that Adelson has made more money during the Obama administration than any other American.

Finally

Expect to see and hear plenty from Adelson and his involvement in the November elections, but don’t expect him to talk much about gaming. Adelson’s real interests are in foreign policy and he says he’s willing to spend as much as $100 million to bring down the Obama administration.

While the numbers surrounding Adelson’s contributions may sound big to regular folks, Forbes reporter Steve Bertoni does a good job of putting them in perspective.

He points out that if that given Adelson’s $25 billion dollar fortune, $10 million is almost nothing. It’s the equivalent of around $400 to a mere millionaire. That’s just about the price of a two night stay at his Venetian hotel in Las Vegas.

What do you think of Adelson’s involvement in the US Presidential candidate. Is he trying to influence foreign policy, gaming regulations, or is he just flexing his muscles? Let us know in our General Discussion Forum.


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