WHAT’S ON SHELDON ADELSON’S MIND? IS THE OWNER OF THE SANDS AND VENETIAN CASINOS IN LAS VEGAS AND MACAU CONCERNED WITH GLOBAL POLITCS OR PERHAPS MONEY WITH HIS HUGE POLITICAL DONATIONS?
Sheldon Adelson recently became one of the richest men in the United States, his fortune is estimated at 25 billion and he now is one of the all time biggest political donors. He gave millions to Republican Presidential contender Newt Gingrich in the primaries and now millions more to candidate Romney. He is reportedly to have said that he will donate up to $100 million to see that President Obama is not re-elected. He donates not only to Romney directly but also to super Pacs like Crossroads GPS run by Karl Rove (approximately 10 million) Pacs founded by the Koch Bros ( approximately 10 million) and other Pacs for the election of Republican Congressional candidates (about 10 million). He is even funding a Pac targeting Jews in swing states hoping to pare off a few Jewish voters who as a group normally vote almost unanimously for Democratic candidates. He believes a few points will help turn the vote to Romney in close swing states especially those with large Jewish populations.
The argument he makes to persuade Jewish voters to change their allegiance from the Democrats to the Republicans is that Obama is in favor of a two state solution based on the 1967 borders in Palestinian and he was rude to Netanyahu when he last visited the White House ostensibly with his concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. This sounds like pretty thin gruel to entice a change in a long term political alignment. This is particularly true of a rich newcomer.
What else could be his motive for such huge donation? It is known that the Justice Department is looking into to his dealings in Macau with the Peoples Republic of China. Macau is the only place under PRC control where gambling is allowed. Prior to China’s takeover it was a Portuguese colony for five hundred years.
Gambling was dominated for forty years by one man, Stanley Ho, rumored to be under control of the Triads or Chinese under world. When the PRC took over they were persuaded to allow Las Vegas style gambling. Sheldon Adelson was a prime mover in that change an brokered deals to build casinos on Macau an island across the Pearl River Estuary from Hong Kong. Steve Wynn and the MGM Grand followed him there and built casinos. Now the gross amount spent on gambling in Macau is about five times that of Las Vegas making it the largest legal gambling center in the world. This is the source of Adelson’s recent increase in wealth so as to enable him to be a significant donor in American politics. Senator John McCain questions if this is not in fact a foreign powers intrusion into American politics through a cutout.
The question arises if there has been a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which forbids and makes it a crime for American companies doing business in foreign countries to pay for influence in their business dealings. In otherwards they can’t pay bribes to secure favorable treatment. What Adelson had to do to have the PRC break the Triads forty year hold on gambling in Macau and secure the right to build casinos on Chinese territory is of interest to the Justice Department.
Beyond that there is the question of criminal interests in the Macau operation. It is illegal for a Chinese citizen to take money outside of China even for the purpose of going to Macau, a Chinese special administrative region. Thus most Chinese travel to Macau in junkets many of which are conducted by organized crime who also facilitate credit for use in Macau. In addition the junket organizers collect any debts owed to the casinos. So this creates an unhealthy relationship for the casinos that under Nevada law cannot associate with criminals under penalty of fines and loss of their gambling licenses.
Adelson’s primary interest may to obtain favorable legislation to enable him to do business in Macau without violating the FCPA or the Nevada gambling laws. He apparently believes that a Republican controlled government will be less regulatory, more laissez faire toward business and maybe inclined to repeal the FCPA or at least soften its application. The Nevada regulators are not likely to do anything to incur the wrath of a major casino owner. Nevada is considered to be a Republican stronghold despite the fact that the Senate Majority leader Harry Reid is from there. However if the Democrats lose control of the Senate Mitch McConnell is likely to be the Majority Leader of the Senate. It will be interesting to see what Adelson will do if the Republican’s lose. Move to Macau?