Has online poker’s villain become a hero in the time of coronavirus and COVID-19?
Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, operator of the Venetian and Palazzo casinos, has procured about 2 million face masks to help health care workers on the frontlines dealing with the global pandemic.
According to Jewish Insider, Adelson paid for the production of the masks in China, and they are being shipped to first responders and hospitals in New York and Nevada.
New York has been particularly hard hit, with more than 75,800 confirmed cases and 1,550 deaths from the disease as of Tuesday afternoon – nearly 45% of the US total in both categories. Nevada so far has more than 1,000 confirmed cases with more than 20 deaths.
Shortage of PPEs
A shortage of protective gear has daunted health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight. As patients flood into hospitals and temporary treatment centers, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals are having to reuse masks and refashion trash bags to compensate for the lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPEs).
About 250,000 masks reportedly will go to Project Airbridge, a public-private partnership coordinated by the White House response team to assist health care workers in need.
The Trump Administration has faced harsh criticism after videos emerged confirming that many medical workers were having to treat patients with the highly contagious disease without adequate PPEs.
President Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have sparred verbally and on Twitter over the number of ventilators the federal government has sent to the state to treat COVID-19 patients.
Adelson, of course, is a staunch Trump supporter and Republican mega-donor, having given hundreds of millions of dollars to right-wing groups to help Trump’s election and re-election efforts. Adelson gave $124 million to GOP campaigns in 2018, and fundraising monitors expect him and his wife to donate up to $200 million to super PACs and “dark money” operations in 2020.
Last year, Trump awarded Adelson’s wife, Miriam, a medical doctor and philanthropist, the Medal of Freedom.
Poker Foe Fights for Good During Pandemic
Adelson has also long been a thorn in the side of online poker players, fighting to have the game abolished from the US. He has claimed the move is to protect children from becoming addicted to online gambling, but cynics question if Adelson was just trying to protect his bottom line.
The Venetian recently raised the ire of some live poker players, too, including a recent increase to a $9 drop during a high-hand promotion before the pandemic caused Gov. Brian Sandoval to shut down all non-essential businesses in the state.
But the Las Vegas Sands has been at the forefront of supportive measures in the age of coronavirus, vowing to pay its hourly workers indefinitely during the shutdown and pledging to light up its guest suites nightly with words of encouragement for first responders and medical personnel.
The Venetian displayed the word “LOVE” for one hour on Monday night.