by Contributing Author
It is estimated that some 15.2 million people worldwide are Jewish, yet their outsized contribution to society baffles the mind. Jewish contributions to humankind span the entire spectrum, including science, technology, medicine, literature, arts, and entertainment industries, to name but a few. The legendary Mark Twain once remarked, ‘All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?’
Indeed, Jewish influence is perhaps best represented with Nobel prizes. Jewish people have been awarded Nobel prizes 210 times, accounting for 22% of all individual recipients between 1901 and 2021. Their outsized contribution to humanity baffles the mind, given that the Jewish population only numbers 0.19% of the global population.
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Today, we explore the Jewish contributions to the entertainment scene, specifically the hotel and casino industry, where slots, blackjack, baccarat, and roulette reign supreme. To be a success as a casino boss it’s not about knowing the values of the blackjack cards or understanding the odds of roulette – it’s about entertaining people. And these guys know how to do it.
Sheldon Adelson and Miriam Adelson
Sheldon Adelson was a staunch supporter of Israel throughout his life. He is best remembered as the founder and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, including Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. He died of lymphoma on January 11, 2021. He built an empire valued at $36.4 billion; he employed tens of thousands of people and supported hundreds of thousands of people through the employment opportunities he created directly and indirectly. Before he passed in 2021, he owned 50% of his gambling empire’s $14 billion in sales.
He only started in the casino industry at the age of 55 after he teamed up with partners to purchase the Sands Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for $128 million. Over the years, he donated handsomely to Donald Trump’s campaign and to Republicans in general. Reports indicate that together with Miriam, the Adelson’s donated $123 million in 2018 alone. Sheldon was of Welsh and Lithuanian descent, and he grew up dirt poor in the basement of a Boston building. Sheldon’s four children and 11 grandchildren are running his business empire along with his wife, Miriam.
Steve Wynn – co-founder of Wynn Resorts
Steve Wynn is another self-made billionaire who retains ranking status in Las Vegas and the casino world. Despite misconduct allegations, he remains a power broker in the gaming industry. Now 80 years old, Steve Wynn has done it all. He resigned from his position as CEO of Wynn Resorts, and the board appointed Matt Maddox in his place. Steve Wynn created many of the most incredible casino resorts in Las Vegas, including Treasure Island, the Mirage, the Bellagio, and the iconic Wynn Las Vegas.
He co-founded Wynn Resorts with his wife Elaine back in 2002. She remains the company’s largest shareholder, following a bitter divorce agreement. Wynn’s father owned an East Coast bingo parlor. Wynn took over the business and then moved into Las Vegas in 1967. Today, he ranks at #358 on the Forbes 400 list with a net worth of $3.3 billion.
Other Notable Players in the Casino Industry
Famous and infamous people have peppered the casino industry over the years. The likes of gangsters Meyer Lansky, Arnold Rothstein, and Bugsy Siegel were both reviled and revered for their behavior. Others like Tony Bloom from England, Bob Gorodetsky who pleaded guilty to fraud charges of $9.6 million, and guys like them are already in the billionaires club. Yet, even today, many of the world’s finest online casino gaming platforms are built with Israeli ingenuity, a testament to the enduring relationship between the Jewish people and the entertainment scene.