Las Vegas Sands, Adelsons Donate Millions to Texas Politicians
Posted on: February 6, 2023, 08:09h.
Last updated on: February 6, 2023, 08:09h.
Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and principals Sheldon and Miriam Adelson made major contributions to the campaigns of Texas politicians in recent years. It is an apparent effort to curry favor for the casino company’s continuing struggle to get a casino bill approved, and later to open a destination resort in the Lone Star State.
Part of the loot came from LVS’ political action committee. It recently contributed to the three most powerful Republicans in state politics. House Speaker Dade Phelan of Beaumont received $300,000, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick $225,000, and Governor Greg Abbott $200,000.
Mark P. Jones, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, said the LVS PAC has a two-track donation strategy: First, donations to Phelan, Abbott, and Patrick.
They are the “three most pivotal actors in the 2023 legislative session,” Jones said.
But it doesn’t stop there. The LVS PAC has given in the range of $3,000 and $30,000 to more than 150 current state representatives and senators out of a total of 181, Jones said. These include Republicans and Democrats.
You would have to search far and wide on the Texas House and Senate floor to find a legislator who has not received a campaign contribution from the Las Vegas Sands,” Jones told Casino.org.
Also, substantial donations were made by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson over the past three years. Sheldon Adelson was LVS’ CEO and a Republican national mega donor. He died in 2021.
These include $1.5 million to Abbott and $25,000 to Phelan. The Adelsons also donated to the campaigns of many Texas Republicans via the Republican State Leadership Committee.
63 Sands Lobbyists in Texas
The donations come as LVS is working hard behind the scenes at the state capital in Austin.
LVS employed at least 63 lobbyists in Texas last month, The Dallas Morning News reported, citing state records. The total salary for the lobbyists is predicted to come to $5.9 million for 2023, the report added.
That compares to 76 lobbyists hired by LVS in 2021. They were paid $6.7 million that year.
The lobbyists are attempting to reverse the state’s historic opposition to commercial casinos.
“The primordial goal of the Las Vegas Sands in contributing millions of dollars to Texas lawmakers and spending millions of dollars on hired gun lobbyists is to obtain access to the most lucrative untapped gambling market in the United States: the Lone Star State,” Jones said.
The Las Vegas Sands leadership … has not only gotten casino gambling legislation closer to the goal line than it’s ever been before, but also ensured that when the casino licenses are distributed, the Las Vegas Sands will enjoy a privileged seat at the table along with Houston’s Tilman Fertitta.”
University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus also points out that “donations always move the needle politically in Texas. It might take a few sessions but money talks in the Texas legislature.”
Phelan and Abbott recently signaled they would consider legislation to permit destination casinos.
But so far, Patrick, who presides over the Senate, has not shown he would back such casino-enabling proposals.
Two bills that would allow for destination casinos and sports betting recently were introduced by Texas legislators.
Sports Betting Lobbying
Sports wagering businesses, DraftKings and FanDuel, and casino company MGM Resorts International also have hired lobbyists in Texas, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Two thirds of both the House and Senate would need to back a gambling bill before it is sent to the state’s voters in November for final approval. If the voters support the referendum, the state’s constitution would be amended.
Casino.org reached out to a spokesman for LVS. There was no immediate comment.