Sheldon Adelson: Coming to Massachusetts?
Hey, so where’s Sheldon Adelson? The Dorchester-born casino magnate has been awfully quiet so far. Back in 2007, when Governor Deval Patrick first proposed a bill to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts, the Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO was front and center, lobbying for the bill and pitching a site in Marlborough.
This time around, Adelson — judged by Forbes to be the 16th richest person in the world — has mostly kept mum. Part of the reason could be that Marlborough is out as a location. As the town’s building commissioner Stephen Reid put it, “From my observation, I’d say 100 percent no.” In response to Adelson’s previous interest, Reid said that the town put in place regulations that prohibit a casino.
Others have hypothesized that Adelson is too busy with mega-projects in Miami and Macao to focus on Massachusetts. Las Vegas Sands is, after all, one of the largest gaming companies in the world. Who knows, it could even be that Adelson, a longtime force in conservative politics, has been consumed by Newt-mania and can’t even focus on anything else. (OK, so this one seems unlikely, though Adelson is a big Gingrich backer: he gave the former Speaker’s 527 organization $7 million between 2007 and 2010.)
The question of what Adelson is up to becomes all the more acute now that his long time nemesis, Steve Wynn, is playing on the Sands CEO’s home turf. Though they’ve recently kissed and made up (sort of), the enmity between Wynn and Adelson is legendary. Adelson has called Wynn a “liar” and an “egomaniac.” For his part, Wynn’s said, “Sheldon has an inferiority complex. He gets very upset when someone is standing in his way.” And that was just in one paragraph from one 2005 Forbes story.
Whatever recent truce they’ve called, it’s hard to believe Adelson likes the idea of Wynn making a big score here in Massachusetts. So will Sands make a play? When I got in touch with company spokesman Ron Reese, he didn’t commit to anything, but he didn’t rule it out either. “We are still following the developments in MA as it relates to casino gaming, but I don’t have anything new to share with you,” Reese emailed. “We will continue to monitor the situation.”
In other words, Sheldon Adelson is lurking. Stay tuned.
For more on casinos in Massachusetts, read Jason Schwartz’s latest blog posts. Jason will be on-air with WGBH at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 7, to talk about the Mashpee Wampanoag’s quest for a casino of their own. Listen to the live stream of the broadcast, or read “The Big Gamble” from this month’s issue.