How did he make his billions? Adelson made his first fortune with Comdex, a computer trade show. He sold the parent company in 1995 and pocketed $500m. By then, he'd bought the Sands Hotel and Casino, razed it, and built the revolutionary $1.5bn Venetian, complete with canals and singing gondoliers. He opened China's first Vegas-style casino in 2004. But Adelson's luck has changed. Vegas revenues are in freefall, the Chinese are restricting travel to Macau, and Sands has debts of around $10bn - Adelson had to chip in $1bn himself to prop it up.
The secret of his success? Determination and innovation. He'd had several careers before he revolutionised Las Vegas. 'If the world came to an end, there would be cockroaches and Sheldon Adelson,' said a former employee, 'and he would be smart enough to open a pest-control company.'