LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Sheldon Adelson helped transform Las Vegas into a world-class destination. His huge influence over the local economy helped shift the approach used to attract visitors to the valley to this day.
There’s no doubt Sheldon Adelson has an outsized presence on the Strip with his Venetian and Palazzo properties. The Venetian was considered groundbreaking when it opened in 1999 -- the world's biggest hotel at the time.
“Every room will be a suite," Adelson said at the time. "The average size of a room in a Las Vegas mega-resort is about 400 square feet. Our room will be 700 square feet."
Sheldon's properties had a reputation for paving their own paths rather than following their Strip competitors.
“When everybody charged for parking, they didn’t," said Anthony Curtis with Lasvegasadvisor.com. "They did things their own way. He did things his own way, and that stands out as far as I’m concerned.”
Curtis says Adelson was perhaps the most influential at spearheading convention business in Las Vegas, drawing crowds that stay and spend.
“His whole business plan, his whole model, was based on convention business, which the rest of the city went, 'Holy mackerel, what a great idea. We got to do this too,'” Curtis said.
Adelson brought the COMDEX to the city which eventually became the precursor to CES, the biggest technology showcase in the world.
Curtis credits Adelson for getting other Strip properties to change their course.
“Convention centers were being built in casinos all over Las Vegas and it was to capture more of that business Sheldon Adelson had taken,” he said.
Adelson was also known to be an advocate for veterans, donating money and resources to help them. He wasn’t shy about expanding his reach internationally.
Kimi Schroeder with U.S. Vets says Adelson served on their board of directors and helped acquire masks at the beginning of the pandemic when they were hard to come by.
“We were able to give those to both our veterans and our staff that work with our veterans,” Schroeder said.
She also says his company helped renovate a restroom for them to better serve disabled veterans.
“With that renovation, we were able to serve our veterans in a more appropriate manner,” she explained.
“You look at the thousands of lives they’ve touched, and the thousands of young men and women who have an education and who have a job today,” said Steve Weil, CEO of Friends of the IDF.
He says Adelson was a humble man and a strong advocate for Israel. Weil says he played a huge role in supporting those who served in the Israeli military.
“These are young men and women who have given three, four years of their lives to defend the nation and in return delayed their education and earn their own money,” he said.
Schroeder says memories of Adelson’s generosity will live on.
“It’s a hard loss and we will continue to provide the services in honor of him,” she said.