In Israel, where he had a home and owned major conservative media outlets, Mr. Adelson supported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party. He opposed statehood for Palestinians, favored Israeli settlements in occupied territories and underwrote junkets to Israel by congressional Republicans.
He looked like a man spoiling for a fight: short, stout and pugnacious, with sparse reddish hair and a puffy pale face that reddened easily. Unions, reporters and associates he considered disloyal incurred his wrath. He kept bodyguards and lawyers close for privacy and libel actions.
Mr. Adelson began his rise in 1979, when he and four partners started a Las Vegas computer trade show called Comdex. Years before computers proliferated in households, the show drew sellers and buyers to see the latest technology in a field that was growing exponentially. In the 1980s and ’90s, it was the nation’s top computer exhibition, and Mr. Adelson made $500 million from its sale.
In 1989, his partnership concluded the purchase of the Sands Hotel and Casino, the Frank Sinatra-Rat Pack hangout, and added a convention center. Honeymooning with his second wife in Venice in 1991, he found the inspiration for his next move. He imploded the Sands in 1996 to make way for his $1.5 billion Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in 1999. By 2003, it had 8,000 suites and rooms and a casino the size of two football fields. He owned a majority interest in the corporation, and, taking it public, became a multibillionaire overnight.
In 2007, three years after gaining a toehold in Macau with a $265 million casino, Mr. Adelson opened his next big thing: the Venetian Macao, a $2.4 billion, 39-story hotel and casino — the world’s seventh largest building, with a gaming paradise almost as big as 10 football fields. Asia’s fanatic gamblers poured in, and Mr. Adelson multiplied his wealth many times over.
Mr. Adelson built other casino-hotels in Macau, Singapore and Pennsylvania, and added the Las Vegas Palazzo. In 2013, he dropped plans for a $30 billion resort near Madrid after failing to win Spanish concessions. But he planned casinos in Japan, an untapped gambling mega-market, and, with billions at stake, lobbied hard against online gambling.
His company faced lawsuits, investigations and accusations of bribing Chinese and American officials and of tolerating prostitutes and the Mafia. Mr. Adelson denied the allegations and was not personally implicated. Nor was his company convicted of serious wrongdoing, although it paid a $47 million fine in 2013 to avoid criminal charges in a money-laundering investigation.