American Gaming Association stakes claim in presidential race

Ten Republican presidential candidates took part in a prime-time debate last week. Photo from Scott Walker / Facebook

The American Gaming Association is continuing its voter education project as the 2016 presidential race heats up.

A letter sent to Nevada's Congressional delegation and other officials urges them to stress the importance of gaming as they engage with presidential candidates. Casinos and resorts support 425,000 jobs and contribute $53 billion to the state's economy, industry leaders said.

“It’s our responsibility to get ahead of potentially harmful comments and policy proposals by ensuring elected leaders fully understand our business," AGA President and CEO Geoff Freeman and Nevada Resorts Association President Virginia Valentine wrote in the letter. "At the end of the day, everyone in Nevada will benefit from a proactive approach."

Gaming does not typically play a large role in presidential campaigns mainly because the candidates lack significant experience in the subject. The current Republican field, however, includes a handful of contenders with somewhat negative records on Indian gaming.

Real estate and casino mogul Donald Trump has the most visible record. He's made racial comments about tribes in Connecticut and New York that were seen as competitors to his gaming companies and once claimed that organized crime was going to infiltrate Indian Country.

"But to sit here and listen as people are saying that there is no organized crime, that there is no money laundering, that there is no anything, and that an Indian chief is going to tell Joey Killer to please get off his reservation is almost unbelievable to me," Trump told the House Subcommittee on Native American Affairs on October 5, 1993.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) killed the Menominee Nation off-reservation casino earlier this year, saying it would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues due to existing Class III gaming compacts. He might face another decision if the Ho-Chunk Nation clears the Bureau of Indian Affairs before he leaves office.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush refused to negotiate a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe despite repeated requests. The tribe ended up signing an agreement with his successor although an extension remains in limbo.

Bush hasn't been in office for more than eight years but he continues to oppose an expansion of gaming in Florida, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who was one of the candidates who appeared in last week's prime-time debate, also opposes an expansion, the paper said.

Get the Story:
Gaming claims a place in presidential race (The Las Vegas Review-Journal 8/12)

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