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December 17, 2014

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Websites of Venetian, Palazzo casinos hacked

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Steve Marcus

An exterior view of Palazzo on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011, on the Strip.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 | 4:10 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The websites of casinos owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp. were hacked on Tuesday morning and remained down as of the afternoon.

Patrons got error messages when they tried to visit the home pages of the Venetian casino, famous for its ersatz canals, and the Palazzo casino, which is next door on the Las Vegas Strip. The company's corporate site was also hacked, as were websites for a Sands casino in Bethlehem, Pa., and its properties in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said the company was working with law enforcement to determine who was behind the hacking, and the company was assessing the damage.

FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer confirmed that the agency was aware of the problems with the Sands sites, but she declined to say whether the FBI had launched an investigation. Las Vegas police spokesman Larry Hadfield said he was not aware of the issue.

The company could not say whether customer credit-card records had been breached.

The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., posted screenshots of the sites before they were taken down that showed a picture of Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson posing with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a message condemning the use of weapons of mass destruction.

The sites featured a list of confidential employee information and Social Security numbers, according to the Morning Call.

The hackers also disrupted some of Sands' internal systems, leaving employees without access to their company email accounts.

Adelson, who is known for having a fiery personality, has been outspoken in his support for Israel.

In October, he floated the idea of dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran, saying strength was the only thing the country understands. During a forum at Yeshiva University in New York City, he imagined what might happen if the U.S. began negotiations over the country's nuclear program by launching a strike on the Iranian desert.

"Then you say, 'See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development,' " he said.

Last December, Las Vegas-based casino operator Affinity Gaming announced that its credit-card transactions had been hacked and warned its 300,000 customers to take steps to protect themselves from identity theft.

Other Las Vegas-based casino companies reported no problems with their sites Tuesday.

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