Casino Billionaire Phil Ruffin Donates $2M to Donald Trump 2024 Campaign

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Phil Ruffin is the first Las Vegas casino billionaire to open his deep pockets to help support Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential bid.

Treasure Island Las Vegas owner Phil Ruffin speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, at a campaign rally for Donald Trump on Jan. 28, 2016. Ruffin has given Trump’s 2024 campaign $2 million. (Image: AP)

Ruffin holds a 50% stake in Trump International Las Vegas and additionally owns Treasure Island and Circus Circus on the Strip. The 88-year-old has been a longtime friend of the former president, a billionaire in his own right who previously owned casinos in Atlantic City and Indiana.

Trump has relied heavily on Las Vegas casino tycoons during each of his three presidential runs since 2016.

The biggest “get” in town is Dr. Miriam Adelson, the widow of Sheldon Adelson, who founded and ran Las Vegas Sands until his death in January 2021. The Adelsons gave more than $200 million to Republican candidates during the 2016 and 2020 presidential election cycles.

While Dr. Adelson is waiting to open her political war chest until the GOP ticket is determined, Ruffin is already betting big on Trump once again.

$2M to Trump PAC

Recently disclosed campaign contribution reports from the Federal Election Commission reveal that Ruffin — worth an estimated $2.7 billion by Forbes — gave $1 million to Make America Great Again Inc. in April. He gave a second $1 million donation to the political action committee (PAC) in June.

Make America Great Again Inc., or MAGA Inc., is Trump’s primary super PAC supporting his 2024 run. As a super PAC, the committee can raise and spend an unlimited amount of money on Trump’s White House bid.

Ruffin’s 2024 campaign money allocated to Trump is nearly double the amount of financial support he lent his friend for the 2020 election. During Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden, Ruffin gave Trump PACs a little more than $1 million.

Political pundits say Trump might need a much richer campaign bankroll in 2024 to mount his legal defense in four criminal indictments and to keep his name on state ballots. Along with his wealthy friends, Trump’s extended family is also donating to the PAC.

Charles Kushner, the father of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, gave $1 million to MAGA Inc. in June. The elder Kushner received a presidential pardon in December 2020 from Trump. That was relating to his 2005 guilty plea of making illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. Kushner served 14 months in federal prison before being released in 2006.

Several other billionaires who own or formerly owned casinos in Las Vegas, including Station Casinos brothers Frank III and Lorenzo Fertitta, their distant cousin Tilman Fertitta, and Wynn Resorts founder Steve Wynn, are likely to support Trump next year, as they did in 2016 and 2020.

Latest Odds

With just 311 days remaining until the November 2024 presidential election, political bettors on PredictIt have Trump as the odds-on front-runner.

The peer-to-peer wagering exchange has Trump’s shares of winning the Nov. 5 election trading at 40 cents. Biden is second at 38 cents.

Nikki Haley, the 29th U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former governor of South Carolina, is in third with her shares trading at 12 cents. Haley last month secured the financial backing of the Koch network — one of the country’s richest families, with a net worth of about $120 billion.

No sportsbook in the U.S. is legally permitted to take traditional bets on political outcomes. But bookmakers overseas have long done so.

At William Hill in the UK, Trump is the 2024 favorite at +120. Biden is at +200 and Haley is at +600. California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is at +1000, former First Lady Michelle Obama is at +2800, and Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — once a GOP front-runner — is now a long underdog at +4000.

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