Casino Industry Donated 6 Times More to Republican Candidates than Democrats
Republican candidates running for Congress received six times more money than Democrats from the casino industry this election cycle. The figures were a staggering $15.5M vs. $2.6M, according to an analysis of 100,000 federal campaign records by Play USA. The four largest political donations from members of the casino industry financed the GOP, according to the analysis. And that imbalance was seen both in the executive suites and from employees on the casino floor.
Top Casino-Related Donations
According to Play USA, the four largest political contributions from the gaming industry were made to conservative candidates and causes.
- Miriam Adelson – $10M. The widow of Sheldon Adelson and the majority shareholder in Las Vegas Sands made her donation to the Congressional Leadership Fund, which supports Republican candidates for the US House of Representatives.
- The Fertitta family – $2.45M. Station Casinos CEO Frank Fertitta III, his brother Lorenzo, and several close relatives made their donations to GOP candidates and causes.
- Phil Ruffin – $750K. The owner of Treasure Island and Circus Circus casino resorts, along with his wife, made the third-largest total political contribution, which included a $500K donation to Make America Great Again Action Inc., Donald Trump’s principle political action committee.
- Joel R. Carter Sr. – $315K. The conservative contributions from the co-founder and president of Gulfside Casino Partnership, which owns the Island View Casino in Gulfport, Miss., include $120K to the Trump-Graham Majority Fund, a political action committee co-founded by Donald Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to take control of the Senate.
- Jim Murren – $87K. The highest bet on blue to make the Top 5 came from the former CEO of MGM Resorts, who gave $87K to Democratic congressional candidates.
One large contributor who stood out in the Play USA analysis was Stanton Dodge, general counsel for the DraftKings sports betting company, who contributed $71.5K to Republican congressional candidates and $67.6K to Democratic ones.
Casino Floors Bet on Red, Too
Even among casino floor workers, Republicans received about $1.50 for every $1 donated to Democrats, according to Play USA. (The average casino worker’s political donation was $15.)
Experts offered a number of explanations for this wealth-independent imbalance to Play USA. They suggested that gaming was hit particularly hard by COVID-19 pandemic closures, which tended to be imposed by Democratic governors. Also, they noted that giving by corporate political action committees tends to favor incumbents, and Democrats have controlled both chambers of Congress since 2021. In addition, experts noted that workers seeking to support Democrats do so primarily through their unions.
Since most Americans who vote never give to political campaigns, Play USA cautioned, it is not possible to extrapolate from contributions how an entire industry will vote. Additionally, personal politics sometimes differ from company politics. So even the contributions that someone makes, knowing they are publicly visible, may not necessarily reflect how they will vote in private.
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