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Sheldon Adelson's Fiscal Cliff Dividend Recouped A Year Of Campaign Spending In ONE Day

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ADELSON DIVIDEND FISCAL CLIFF
Las Vegas casino boss Sheldon Adelson gestures during press conference in Macau on September 20, 2012. He landed $1.2 billion in a special dividend ahead of the fiscal cliff. | Getty Images

For blowing $150 million on the election, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson might be history's dumbest gambler. But don't worry: He recouped his cash, and more, through the miracle of the fiscal cliff in ONE DAY.

That means he'll have plenty more cash to gamble on the same Republicans who helped push the economy to the fiscal escarpment in the first place.

Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. last week announced a special, one-time dividend of $2.75 per share. That made Shelly a lucky boy: The dividend brought Adelson, who owns more than half of the company's shares, a windfall of $1.2 billion. (h/t CNBC's Robert Frank)

Sands is one of nearly 200 companies that have announced one-time or early dividends in recent weeks, which will help shareholders skirt expected increases in dividend tax rates next year. Companies have paid out more than $24 billion and potentially saved shareholders $6 billion in taxes.

How much did Adelson save by paying himself a special dividend? This year's tax bill for that $1.2 billion, at 15 percent, will be $180 million. Next year, including a special tax on the wealthy prescribed by President Obama's health-care law -- and let's go ahead and assume that would apply to the billionaire Adelson -- the tax rate on that $1.2 billion dividend could be as high as 43.4 percent, or a $521 million tax bill for Adelson's dividend.

In other words, by taking a dividend ahead of the fiscal cliff, Adelson has possibly saved himself (and cost the government) up to $341 million, or more than twice the amount of money he wasted on the 2012 election. That means he can waste money on elections again and again. In fact, he told the Wall Street Journal he plans to double down on his political donations in the next cycle.

"I don't cry when I lose," Adelson told the WSJ. "There's always a new hand coming up."

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