Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who built the world's biggest casino empire and used his fortune to support Republican candidates and charities, has died. He was 87.

Adelson's wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, said in a statement that the Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairperson and chief executive died "of complications from a long illness," according to The Associated Press Wednesday.

Adelson had Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was diagnosed in 2019, the Las Vegas Review Journal, a newspaper Adelson owned, reported. He died Monday night at his Malibu, California, home.

Adelson started as a newspaper boy on Boston's streets and became one of the most prominent luxury resort developers and philanthropists.

The son of an immigrant Jewish taxi driver, Adelson founded what would become the computer industry's biggest event - Comdex - which he sold to Japan's SoftBank Group for around $800 million in 1995.

He poured the profits into casinos, first in Las Vegas and then in Asia where he helped turn Macao into the world's largest gambling market.

By age 16, Adelson had acquired his second business - vending machines. He opened a tour business and then got into venture capital.

In his mid-30s Adelson started finding his way as an entrepreneur who would later become one of the richest men in the world. His wealth was last estimated by Forbes at almost $36 billion.

"Sheldon lived the true American dream. He was true to his family, his country and all those that knew him. The world has lost a great man. He will be missed," outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump said.

"Sheldon battled his way out of a tough Boston neighborhood to build a successful enterprise that loyally employed tens of thousands and entertained millions," former U.S. President George W. Bush said.

Adelson's funeral will be in Israel, the birthplace of his wife. A Las Vegas memorial service will be announced at a later date, his company Las Vegas Sands. said.