Monday October 22, 2012 : U.S. GAMBLING INDUSTRY A BIG SPENDER IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
American casinos may donate up to $50 million in this current electoral cycle
This election cycle in the United States could see up to $50 million in political donations flowing from the American gambling industry, the Las Vegas Sun newspaper reported over the weekend, noting that the biggest spender is probably Las Vegas Sands mogul Sheldon Adelson – increasingly known for his anti-online gambling sentiments.
Apparently gambling firms are ‘betting' on candidates at every level on the federal ballot, with a current focus on the presidential fight between incumbent Barack Obama and his Republican Party opponent, Mitt Romney, amid media reports indicating that hundreds of millions have already been thrown at both the Republican and Democratic political parties in the wider, national context.
Nevertheless, $50 million from one industry is still a very substantial sum of money.
In Nevada, the struggle for a Senate seat in Congress between Republican Senator Dean Heller and Democrat challenger Representative Shelley Berkley has generated extensive media coverage, not least due to the contentious topic of who is doing most to further the cause of online poker legalization .
On the national level, Adelson had reportedly donated some $34 million to mainly Republican political action committees by the end of last (September) month, ensuring that the current industry political spend this season far outstrips the $17 million it spent back in 2008.
The Las Vegas Sun quotes from OpenSecrets.com, which indicates that other industry donations have been more bipartisan, with a largely even split between the two political parties and their candidates. Apparently in the past the tendency has been toward more support for the Democrats.
Political science professor Mark Peplowski told the Las Vegas Sun: “The casinos usually cover both sides of the ticket, just to make sure. Whoever wins, they want them to remember: You supported them.”
Some analysts believe the casino companies are more interested in supporting the right state candidates to represent their interests in Congress.
University of Las Vegas political science professor David Damore told the Sun that getting the right congressional candidate elected was important in the push for federally legalised internet poker.
Analyst Robert LaFleur opined to the newspaper that gambling is really a state issue, therefore except for matters related to internet gambling – which crosses state lines – there was not an imperative for federal involvement short of corporate tax issues
David Schwartz of the University of Las Vegas Gaming Research Center took a wider view, and felt that the national economy was a key area due to its potential to adversely or positively impact the gambling and tourism business in Nevada.
“Ever since the federal government stopped trying to close the casinos down in the ‘sixties, I think they [the casino companies] just want somebody in there who’s going to help foster a strong economy. … They’re just basically backing who they think is going to be best in that job,” he said.
The newspaper points out that when it comes to tourism and the legalization of online poker there are fewer differences between what Republican and Democrat supporters want. Current Senate candidates Dean Heller and Shelley Berkley are almost even in monetary support from the industry in the last two year cycle, although those numbers could change with more updated statistics from OpenSecrets.com.