One of the Republican Party’s most sought after figures, Sheldon Anderson, appears to be directing some of his energy towards the Peach State and the possibility of casino expansion there.
Adelson, estimated to have a net worth of approximately $27 billion, is the chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, a gaming empire that owns and operates the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. The Sands Corporation is also the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited which operates The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
While some Republican presidential candidates vie for his support, which includes tens of millions of dollars lavished upon their campaign funds, his relationship with Georgia conservatives isn’t as cut and dry. His efforts toward casino expansion have angered some Georgia Republicans. According to a person with close ties to Adelson, those efforts include an investment in the state of Georgia of at least $2 billion. He has a wide web of contacts in the state that could be used to press his case, including former Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich whose previous presidential campaign fund was blessed with $20 million courtesy of Adelson. The 82-year old will need all that help and more in Georgia where soon state legislators will debate whether to legalize casino gambling, which proponents say would help fund the HOPE scholarship as well as other lottery-funded education programs.
To date, gambling giant MGM Resorts International has been the most public in its dream of getting a foothold in Georgia. Recently, its chief executive officer told lawmakers the company was prepared to build a resort in downtown Atlanta at a cost in excess of $1 billion. Other industry notables that have scouted Georgia include Penn National and Boyd Gaming.
After lobbying efforts for a destination casino in Florida last month were apparently abandoned by Adelson, he stirred things up by meeting with Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston on a trek to Georgia one afternoon. Among his missions was to ensure that the Las Vegas Sands wasn’t forgotten by legislators when and if gambling is legalized. Apparently the visit ruffled feathers in Governor Nathan Deal’s office. According to the governor, who was on a European trade mission, his office wasn’t given any notice of the visit by Adelson’s camp. Gambling expansion has been long opposed by Deal, and he said he would actively urge legislators to vote against it in an interview after the visit, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.