The Mystery Is Over: Billionaire Adelson Owns Las Vegas Paper

  • Identity of Las Vegas R-J's buyer kept secret for days
  • Adelson, Republican donor, didn't want to distract from debate

The mystery has been solved.

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate and Republican donor, is the buyer who paid $140 million for Las Vegas’s hometown newspaper, ending days of secrecy over the new owner that has transfixed media watchers.

The Adelson family said it didn’t want to disclose earlier that it was behind the purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal to avoid distracting from the Republican presidential primary debate that took place in town at the Venetian this week. The casino is owned by Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp.

“It was always our intention to publicly announce our ownership of the R-J,” the Adelson family said in a statement published in the newspaper Thursday.

Speculation over who bought the newspaper started last week after an entity called News + Media Capital Group LLC announced the purchase of the publication and some of its sister papers in Nevada from New Media Investment Group. The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s own journalists protested, demanding more transparency from their new owner.

Following reports the buyer might be Adelson, the billionaire told CNN he had “no personal interest” in the newspaper.

The Review-Journal reported Thursday the transaction was arranged by Patrick Dumont, the son-in-law of the 82-year-old Adelson and a senior vice president at Las Vegas Sands, citing unidentified sources. The casino company didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In its statement, the Adelson family said it purchased the Review-Journal through a “wholly-owned fund, as both a financial investment as well as an investment in the future of the Las Vegas community.”

“Our motivation for purchasing the R-J is simple,” the family said in the statement. “We believe in this community and want to help make Las Vegas an even greater place to live.”

Media watchdogs will be looking to see if Adelson’s purchase affects the paper’s political coverage -- or the coverage of the city’s casino industry, where Las Vegas Sands is one of the biggest players. Nevada is a politically important state because its February caucus is one of the first to decide the presidential nominees. Adelson, meanwhile, has become a key source of campaign contributions for Republicans seeking the nomination.

Adelson, ranked 31th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a fortune estimated at $22.6 billion, spent millions of dollars trying to get Republicans elected in 2012.

While Adelson has yet to disclose his Republican presidential pick, he also publishes an Israeli newspaper that has been supportive of Marco Rubio.

Rubio received singular treatment by the newspaper, Israel Hayom, when he declared his candidacy in April for the 2016 nomination. The announcement merited a front-page headline and led to an interview with the paper’s foreign editor, who wrote that “Rubio may be the most pro-Israel presidential candidate that America has to offer.”

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