Huffpost Canada ca
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Mitch Wolfe Headshot

Billionaire Casino Owner Sheldon Adelson Gambles on Ontario. Is Toronto the New Macao?

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Did you know Toronto is on the verge of becoming a world class city? Or at least a major international gambling capital. Because the multi-billionaire casino owner and operator, Sheldon Adelson, has come to play.

Mr. Adelson is the founder, Chairman and CEO of the multi-billion dollar public company, Las Vegas Sands Corp. Las Vegas Sands owns and operates several, large and very successful casinos and resorts in Las Vegas, Nevada, namely: the Venetian and the Palazzo. This company also owns and operates the Venetian/Palazzo Congress Centre and the Sands Expo at Venetian/Palazzo.

According to the company's website, as above noted, the above Congress Centre and Sands Expo contain about 2.25 gross million square feet of meeting and convention space. And the Venentian/Palazzo together with the above vast convention and meeting space, has transformed Las Vegas from a gambling town into the pre-eminent meeting and convention destination in the world.

Las Vegas Sands also owns and operates several major casino/resort properties in the Chinese port of Macao. The Venetian Macao, the Plaza Macao, the Four Seasons Hotel Macao and the Sands Cotai Central.

The combined 2012 net revenues of Las Vegas Sands, ( which also includes casino/resorts in Pennsylvania, US and Singapore) total a whopping $11.13 billion dollars. That's not chump change, sports fans.

Paul Godfrey, the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, with the explicit support of the current Ontario government, wants to transform the city of Toronto into a major gambling and international tourist and convention centre.

Mr. Godfrey has cast his net far and wide in the international waters. And he has apparently landed a huge whale, The Moby Dick of international gambling and convention business. Sheldon Adelson.

According to public filings under the Ontario Lobbyists Registration Act, it appears that Sheldon Adelson, through his company, Las Vegas Sands Corp. has approached Paul Godfrey and the boys and girls at OLG, to discuss Adelson's plans on how to turn dated and drab downtown Toronto into a mecca of gambling, entertainment and lots of American business men and women and conventioneers. Spending gobloads of American cash in our hotels, restaurants. And filling the OLG's coffers with a healthy piece of the gambling revenues action. We are talking a multi billion dollar play, here, campers.

Sheldon Adelson would not have hired the very well-connected and expensive government relations/lobbying firm of Global Public Affairs Inc., to lobby for a local bingo hall license.

If Adelson et al, can recreate Venice, New York and Paris on the Vegas Strip. Why not actual Mecca on Front Street?

Or Sodom and Gomorrah?

My preference is to see Toronto's Front Street transformed into a hot, steamy and sexy indoor Monte Carlo, especially in Toronto's bitterly cold winters. Sort of like Casino Royale. Good to see you again, Mr. Bond.

Sheldon Adelson and his casino/convention team would be great for Toronto! Adelson is a character, a visionary and a risk-taking entrepreneur, with an out-sized ego. But modern Toronto, in the last few decades, has benefited from the visions, entrepreneurial spirit and incredible chutzpah of such city builders and eccentric egos as Mel Lastman, Paul Godfrey, Ed and David Mirvish, Ted Rogers, Galen and Hilary Weston, Hal Jackman and the Thomson family.

We need swash-buckling riverboat gamblers like Sheldon Adelson, to double down and bet billions on the resurgence of Toronto, as a great place to invest, do business and experience Toronto's rich culture and entertainment.