Republican donor’s attack on online gambling shadows talk of 201603/22/2015 admin Add Comment
Christie’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Some gambling companies see an opportunity to boost revenue as earnings from the 900 land-based casinos in the United States have stagnated.
WASHINGTON Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:06am EDT
The others who may be courting Adelson’s political support likely will be reluctant to take a public position on online gambling, which is not a big issue for most Americans, said David Damore, a political science professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
“For Congress to come along and stop these efforts is a mistake,” said Mary Bono, a former Republican representative who is a spokeswoman for the group.
“I think you’re going to see a real divide in the Republican electorate,” said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, which has mobilized thousands of members to support Internet-based poker games.
“On these things, if you can avoid taking a stand for as long as possible, that’s always the best policy,” he said.
Adelson will have the chance to discuss the issue with Christie, Bush, Walker and Kasich in Las Vegas this week, when the governors attend a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Adelson is hosting a dinner for which Bush is the keynote speaker.
By Andy Sullivan
Even if Adelson lines up support for the ban among potential 2016 candidates, that will not do much good if Congress does not act soon, analysts say.
Now the 80-year-old billionaire wants something from Washington: a ban on internet gambling, a growing industry that Adelson says could hurt the casino industry. On Wednesday, some of Adelson’s allies in Congress, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, plan to propose legislation that would do just that.
In the absence of action by Congress, states have moved to allow online gambling operations within their borders.
Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, a social-conservative group in Iowa, said online gambling has not come up in his meetings with potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
In Washington, Adelson has set up a lobbying group called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.
In Ohio, Kasich oversaw an expansion of casino gambling in his state but has not take a position on internet wagering, an aide said. Tribes oppose a federal ban on such gambling on the grounds that it would interfere with their revenue-raising efforts, said Jeff Nelson, a lawyer with the Indian Gaming Alliance.
Even so, the Las Vegas Sands Corp chief executive’s push against online gambling could force Republican politicians to confront an issue that pits religious conservatives who agree with Adelson against more pragmatic elements in the party.
Las Vegas Sands likely wouldn’t be affected if online gambling became widespread in the United States because it makes most of its revenue abroad, said Morningstar analyst Chad Mollman. Several Native American tribes that operate casinos are preparing to offer internet play as well.
“It’s common sense that putting a virtual casino in the pocket of every American with a smartphone is bad public policy,” the group said in a statement.
Advocates opposed to limits on online gambling say that such restrictions would conflict with the Republican Party’s traditional suspicion of federal regulation.
“But as it becomes more and more of a threat, I do believe you’ll see full-spectrum conservatives definitely taking a stand,” said Vander Plaats, who has not worked with Adelson’s group.
Adelson told The Wall Street Journal shortly after the election that he intends to spend more on the 2016 elections.
Online gambling was effectively outlawed in the United States until December 2011, when the Justice Department backed a court’s decision that said a 1961 law banning interstate sports betting did not apply to other forms of gambling.
The Lac du Flambeau band of the Lake Superior Chippewa is planning to offer internet gambling to those who are physically on the tribe’s lands. Graham faces re-election this year in conservative South Carolina, while Chaffetz and Gabbard are from Utah and Hawaii, respectively, where all forms of gambling are illegal.
Adelson also has enlisted religious conservative groups, who play an influential role in Republican presidential primaries.
Adelson has been a particularly enthusiastic supporter of Walker, donating $250,000 when the Wisconsin governor fought back a recall campaign in 2012, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
The bill is not expected to go far; analysts say Congress may not even bring the measure up for a vote this year.
Credit: Reuters/Yuya Shino
LOOKING TO 2016
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson became a major player in Republican politics in the 2012 elections, when he spent more than $90 million in an unsuccessful effort to oust Democratic President Barack Obama.
Adelson has another ace up his sleeve: the promise of campaign cash in the 2016 presidential race. His office did not respond to a request for comment.
The meeting in Las Vegas could be particularly awkward for Christie, who last year signed a law legalizing internet gambling in New Jersey, which along with Nevada and Delaware have approved online gambling as a way to boost tax revenue at a time when earnings from land-based casinos have flat-lined. Adelson and his wife, Miriam, donated at least $93 million to Republican candidates and causes in the 2012 election, making him by far the biggest publicly known donor in either party that year.
“The cat’s out of the bag, to be sure,” said Michael Pollock, managing director at Spectrum Gaming Group, a research firm.
“I think they would try to tiptoe around it as much as they can,” he said.
So far, Adelson has lined up support for his online gambling ban from Republican governors Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, both potential presidential candidates.
In response, Adelson’s rivals, including Caesar’s and MGM Resorts International, have created their own group, the Coalition for Consumer and Online ProtectionUncategorized