LAS VEGAS—After spending more than $100 million mostly on losing Republican election campaigns this year, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson said he planned to stay in the game and double down on his political donations.
Mr. Adelson, who was one of the Republican Party’s biggest donors in 2012, will again give heavily to GOP candidates and conservative causes, he said in an interview, especially to state-level, antiunion initiatives.
Isaac Brekken for The Wall Street JournalSheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, spent more than $100 million on Republican campaigns this year.
“I happen to be in a unique business where winning and losing is the basis of the entire business,” said Mr. Adelson, who directly backed one winning and eight losing candidates in the November election, including Mitt Romney. “So I don’t cry when I lose. There’s always a new hand coming up.”
Mr. Adelson was approached by five GOP governors, including potential 2016 presidential contenders Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal during the Republican Governors Association conference last month in Las Vegas. So far, he said, he is noncommittal. The governors’ offices declined to comment.
Mr. Adelson, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands Corp.,LVS -0.33% and his wife, Miriam, joined the top ranks of the 2012 campaign donors, alongside the industrialist Koch brothers on the Republican side and Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg for the Democrats.
Mr. Adelson’s 2012 donations were double what he spent in 2008, and looking ahead, he said, he was ready to again “double” his donations.
“I’ll spend that much and more,” he said in his first extensive postelection interview. “Let’s cut any ambiguity.”
Forbes magazine estimates Mr. Adelson’s net worth at $21.5 billion. Last week, Sands approved a special dividend that will pay him about $1.2 billion. The casino company is one of the companies that approved such payments this year, ahead of potential tax increases that might come out of congressional budget negotiations.
Federal campaign finance records show the couple gave about $55 million in publicly reported donations. The money included $20 million to Mr. Romney’s independent super PAC, Restore Our Future, and $15 million to the super PAC that almost single-handedly floated Newt Gingrich’s Republican primary campaign.
In addition, Mr. Adelson gave about $50 million to nonprofit conservative advocacy groups that don’t have to disclose their donors, including the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, according to GOP fundraisers and people close to Mr. Adelson. His undisclosed donations are credited by Republicans for helping the party keep its House majority.
“When you have Sheldon say, ‘I believe in a cause,’ others will follow,” said Mr. Rove, who advised Mr. Adelson this year.
Mr. Adelson wouldn’t reveal the total amount of his donations. He said he gave several million dollars to a conservative energy group, as well as “substantial” contributions to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, about $6 million to the Republican Jewish Coalition and funds to a rabbi who lost a congressional race in New Jersey.
Mr. Adelson backed one big winner, Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican from Nevada.
“Adelson-backed candidates found themselves unable to buy the support of the American people,” said Michael Podhorzer, political director of the AFL-CIO union coalition.
Mr. Adelson, 79 years old, said he has many friends in Washington, “but the reasons aren’t my good looks and charm. It’s my “pocket personality,” referring to his donations.
His Las Vegas Sands Corp. is under investigation by the Dept. of Justice to determine whether it violated money-laundering laws by failing to report potentially suspicious financial transactions, according to people with knowledge of the probe. Sands has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Adelson said Mr. Rove “shouldn’t take all the blame” for this year’s Republican losses. However, Mr. Adelson said as a “marketing guy” he has suggestions to help the GOP attract more “customers.” First, he said, avoid such social issues as abortion or stem-cell research.
“We’re pro-abortion rights, pro stem-cell research,” said Mr. Adelson. He also favors the Dream Act, a law that would allow some illegal immigrants to attain legal status. As for health care, he said, “I’m in favor of a socialized-like health care,” similar to the system in Israel.
The Adelsons also set up a medical-research foundation and two drug-addiction clinics. Mr. Adelson gives more money to charity than to politics, he said, and noted that some of his beliefs are at odds with GOP policy.
What divides Mr. Adelson from the Democratic Party is his stand on unions, which have been unable to organize his workers. His flagship, the Venetian, is the only nonunion casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Mr. Adelson said he was likely to continue funding state-by-state efforts to curtail organized labor’s power, in particular by trying to overturn their use of collective bargaining agreements. That was a feature of high-stakes political fights this year in states including Ohio and Wisconsin.
He described President Barack Obama’s winning margin in key swing states as “a rounding error.” Sitting at the end of a giant conference table in the Venetian casino, he grabbed his calculator and began clicking away. “What’s that come up to?” he said. “Look: .002%. Nothing!”
Mr. Obama won the popular vote by 3.6 percentage points, or five million votes. The margin was 388,000 votes in Virginia, Florida and Ohio. The president would have won re-election even if he had lost those three swing states.
Calling Mr. Romney a “good candidate,” Mr. Adelson said he wasn’t looking back at his losses.
“I know in the long run we’re going to win,” he said.
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