Casino magnate and Netanyahu backer Adelson has cancer, in ‘dire’ health

GOP donor unable to work full-time because of side effect from medication for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but plans to stay on as Las Vegas Sands CEO, company says

Sheldon Adelson at the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Sheldon Adelson at the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Casino magnate and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson is being treated for cancer and has not been at his company’s offices in Las Vegas since around Christmas Day.

Adelson’s poor health was revealed earlier this week by one of his company’s attorneys during a court hearing in a years-old case brought by a Hong Kong businessman.

The founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. did not participate in the casino operator’s conference call with analysts and investors following its earnings report in January.

In a statement Thursday, the company said Adelson, 85, had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was unable to work full-time because of the side effects from medication he is taking.

“These side effects have restricted his availability to travel or keep regular office hours,” the statement said. “They have not, however, prevented him from fulfilling his duties as chairman and CEO.”

Attorney James Jimmerson told the court Monday that he learned last month “of the dire nature of Mr. Adelson’s condition, health.” The comment from the attorney came when discussing whether Adelson could sit for a deposition in the case.

Chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation Sheldon Adelson, center, and his wife Miriam arrive ahead of the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

The lawyer’s comments on Adelson’s health were first reported by The Nevada Independent.

Adelson suffers from peripheral neuropathy, a condition that affects the nervous system.

The billionaire and his wife, Miriam, gave President Donald Trump’s campaign $30 million in 2016. They followed that by contributing $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 midterm elections.

Sheldon Adelson addresses the crowd at a dinner following the inauguration ceremony of Ariel University’s new medical school on August 19, 2018. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

He is also a strong backer of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a frequent donor to Israeli causes, including a new medical school in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, and publishes the free Israel Hayom daily.

Adelson is Las Vegas Sands’ largest shareholder and regularly participates in the company’s earnings calls, but was absent when it reported results on January 23. Sands President Robert Goldstein said at the time that Adelson was “a little bit under the weather.”

“We met with him yesterday,” Goldstein said of Adelson during the January call. “He’s taking some medications making him a bit drowsy, so he decided this morning to take a rain check on this one.”

Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, second right, and his wife, Miriam Ochsorn, right, look at a model of the Sands Cotai Central resort during a news conference in Macau on Wednesday, April 12, 2012. (AP /Kin Cheung)

Adelson was expected to testify in the case brought by Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen and his company, Round Square Co. He testified in 2013 and 2008 in the case’s two previous trials.

Suen has been seeking compensation because he said he helped Sands secure business in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. Sands has argued Suen didn’t help get crucial approval to build casinos in Macau and deserves nothing.

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