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Gambling Companies Fund US Elections

By: Joan Peppin, Monday October 22nd 2012
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The Las Vegas Sun newspaper reported this weekend that the November elections in the United States would have up to $50 million in political donations from the country’s gambling industry. By any standards $50 million from one industry is a very substantial sum of money and it is more than double of what the industry spent in 2008. The biggest spender was listed as Las Vegas Sands mogul Sheldon Adelson, who unfortunately is notorious for his anti-online gambling stance. On the national level, Adelson had donated about $34 million to mainly Republican political action committees by the end of September.

In Nevada, the fight for a Senate seat in Congress is between Republican Senator Dean Heller and Democrat challenger Representative Shelley Berkley. This has generated extensive media coverage, since both candidates are engaged in the one-upmanship of who is doing most to further the cause of online gambling legalization. The two are almost even in monetary support received from the industry in the last two years. The Las Vegas Sun has obtained its facts and figures from This web site indicates that apart from Adelson, the industry donations have been more or less evenly split between the two political parties and their candidates. In the past the gambling industry offered greater support for the Democrats.

Different political analysts have come up with their own theories regarding the gambling industry’s support to political parties. Political science professor Mark Peplowski told the Las Vegas Sun that the casinos usually butter their bread on both sides. Then it does not matter who wins, because the winner will have had the support from the casinos. University of Las Vegas political science professor David Damore said that for online gambling supporters it was important to get that congressional candidate elected who would push for federally legalized Internet gambling. On the other hand analyst Robert La ¬Fleur held the opinion that land casino gambling is really a state issue. Therefore federal involvement was important only in matters related to Internet gambling and corporate tax issues.

David Schwartz of the University of Las Vegas Gaming Research Center took a wider view. He explained that the national economy had the potential to impact, adversely or positively, the gambling and tourism business in Nevada. Therefore the candidates’ proposals on reviving the national economy needed to be considered. He pointed out that the federal government will not get back to closing land casinos. Therefore the best bet for the casino companies is the party and the President that can help foster a strong economy.

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