Shirley Leung

Sheldon Adelson, we really need you now

After building a Vegas empire, Sheldon Adelson bet big on gambling in Asia, propelling him to number 11 on the Forbes list of the richest Americans.
After building a Vegas empire, Sheldon Adelson bet big on gambling in Asia, propelling him to number 11 on the Forbes list of the richest Americans.

Sheldon Adelson, please come home and save Suffolk Downs.

I know you’re not interested in opening a casino here, but your city needs you now.

Caesars was unceremoniously dropped from the aging horse track bid, and the replacement could be Hard Rock or some outfit called Rush Street.


Just great, a Gen-X has-been brand or a casino owner you’ve never heard of. To add insult to injury, these guys are leftovers from West Springfield, Worcester, and Millbury, where they struck out.

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Boston deserves better. We have world-class universities and world-class hospitals. If we must have a casino, it should be world class as well.

We could use the Midas touch of a scrappy kid from Dorchester who, after building a Vegas empire, bet big on gambling in Asia, propelling you to number 11 on the Forbes list of the richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $28.5 billion. You spending $1 billion on a casino is the equivalent of me buying a pair of Jimmy Choos.

You built the glorious Venetian on the Vegas strip, painstakingly re-creating the City of Water in the middle of the Nevada desert, complete with canals and gondolas. Then you did it all over again in Macau. Here’s your chance to erect another tribute in an Italian enclave of Boston. Call it Venetian East.

You have become particularly philanthropic in your older years — and I’m not even counting the $150 million you reportedly dropped last year on the charity case known as the Republican Party.


What better gift to the city of Boston than $32 million or more in annual payments and the creation of 4,000 permanent jobs.

Why not set aside a good chunk of those jobs for the kids in the old neighborhood? I’m sure Tom Menino would be happy to help you with that.

You know as well as I do there are casinos, and then there are casinos. Boston shouldn’t have the kind that prey on little old ladies with oxygen tanks, one hand glued to a slot machine, the other gripping a plastic cup of nickels.

We need a casino that draws investment bankers from New York who won’t think twice about hopping up to Boston to drop thousands of dollars.

We need one that draws the high rollers from the world over, curious about the spectacular new playground in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the country.


We need one that becomes a tourist destination for everyone else, generating as much spending from eating and sleeping, as from gambling.

If nothing else, can I appeal to your competitive side? Steve Wynn, your longtime nemesis, has proposed building a $1 billion casino just over the Boston line in Everett. Have you seen the renderings? They are GORGEOUS. An elegant hotel, a river walk, a shopping esplanade, with water taxis connecting it all.

Wynn, in a note to sell the locals on his plan, is even trying to sound like a native.

“I am so happy to be connected to Massachusetts again. My parents and relatives all lived in Revere, and I spent my childhood playing stickball on Dana Street and going to Revere Beach.”

Oh, he is good.

The way things are going now, Wynn has the upper hand. The state is giving out just one license for the Boston area. Everett voters have already approved a casino. East Boston and Revere will vote Nov. 5, but without knowing who will operate a casino, it can be hard to vote yes.

Remember, you’re the one who helped legalize casinos in Massachusetts, spending nearly half a million dollars on lobbying. Years ago, you flirted with the idea of opening one in the Marlborough area. But you weren’t happy with the state’s intention to approve up to three casinos, asserting that’s too many for the market, so you left us.

There is one hurdle for you: to pass muster with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. It is a tough group, for sure.

If I’m reading it right, the commissioners basically lopped off Caesars’ head based on a story in the New York Post. But they wouldn’t do that to you, not with your local ties, not with your charitable ways.

Come back, Sheldon.

Now that you’re 80, come back and roll the dice on your hometown one last time. Don’t leave us between a Hard Rock and Rush Street.

Shirley Leung can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @leung.