Biggest Nevada Political Donors for Casino Industry Include Adelson, Fertitta Brothers

Posted on: June 6, 2016, 02:06h. 

Last updated on: June 6, 2016, 02:39h.

The top Nevada political donors of the 2015/16 financial year are drawn largely from the casino industry, but also include a cosmetics executive, an auto dealer, and even a poker player, according to a list published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week.

Fertitta brothers and Dana White Nevada political donors
Brothers Lorenzo, left, and Frank Fertitta, right, with UFC president Dana White. (Image: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

Perhaps surprising some, the biggest donor of the year so far was not Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, as you might expect, but the CEO and chairman of RagingWire Data Centers, George C. Macricostas.

Macricostas donated $2.12 million in total, with $1.6 million of that going to a super PAC that backed the presidential candidacy of Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Ah, well easy come, easy go.

Adelson’s Antics

Senator Paul didn’t get a dime from Adelson, incidentally, and the good senator’s opposition to federal restrictions on online gambling might have something to do with that. But they don’t call Adelson a “Republican mega donor” for nothing. Instead, the LVS chairman has focused his attentions, all $915,500 of them, on a variety of Republican causes, such as funding the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

If reports last week that Adelson is to spend upwards of $100 million creating a pro-Trump super PAC are true, then his stock on this particular list is about to rise.

Former casino mogul Donald Trump, of course, is the GOP presidential nominee in all but official convention status as of now, and Adelson has said that he’s backing him for that very reason.

Meanwhile, some other famously Republican casino owners, the Fertitta brothers of Station Casinos, gave $500,000 to the Senate Leadership Fund, an organization devoted to preserving the GOP majority in the Senate.

New Jersey Connection

Next up, a company called Winecup-Gamble Inc., donated $1 million to America Leads, a PAC that backed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s presidential bid.

Winecup Gamble is a ranch owned by Paul Fireman, a former CEO of Reebok, who’s since turned venture capitalist. Fireman wants to build a $4.6 billion casino resort in Jersey City and Governor Chris Christie has thrown his abundant weight behind a referendum to expand casino gaming into North Jersey.

That’s how it works in politics: money talks and politicians walk, or should we say jump, on cue.

When you’re a poker player who appears on a list of notable “donators,” it’s usually not a good thing. Unless you’re Cary Katz, of course. Katz is a mainstay on the high roller tournament circuit, and he’s also the guy who famously ran his pocket aces into Connor Drinian’s pocket aces at the 2014 Big One for One Drop, and winded up making a flush.

Katz made his money when he founded a student loan company, the Summerlin-based College Loan Corp., in 1999, of which he is chairman. He is a serial donor to various Republican causes and over the years, has pledged $483,073 to a variety of these.

Notably, Steve Wynn is the only wealthy Nevadan on the list to adopt an entirely bipartisan approach. He has supported both Republican and Democrat presidential candidates, including Christie, Cruz, and Clinton. That’s what’s called “hedging your bets,” and Wynn hasn’t landed at the top of the industry food chain by not knowing how to gamble.