MGM Boss Jim Murren, Former Opponent, Says He’ll Work with Trump on Gaming Issues

Posted on: December 13, 2016, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: December 13, 2016, 12:15h.

MGM CEO Jim Murren is in Washington, DC, this week for the grand opening of his company’s $1.4 billion National Harbor resort. The gaming executive stopped by the National Press Club earlier this month in the nation’s capital for a luncheon, and as is typically the case in DC, politics became an item of discussion.

Jim Murren sports betting Donald Trump
During an interview with the National Press Club, MGM’s Jim Murren weighed in on President-elect Donald Trump and sports betting legalization. (Image:

A lifelong Republican, Murren switched sides for the 2016 presidential election and threw his support behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Since President-elect Donald Trump’s surprising victory on November 8, Murren has largely remained silent save for an occasional comment.

But Murren didn’t hold his opinion back on Trump when asked by the National Press Club.

“As an employer and businessperson, not an elected official, that employs 71,000 men and women, I have a deep commitment to them and what they care about,” Murren explained. “It’s incumbent upon me to do what I can to promote diversity and inclusion, to promote better behavior, to dial back the rhetoric that’s been so hateful and damaging.”

When posed with the question on how Trump International Hotel DC suites compare to the rooms at MGM National Harbor, Murren replied, “I love hotels, but I am in the resort experience. And no one does it better than MGM. I think we will be superior in every way and exceed people’s expectations.”

In August, Murren wrote in a USA TODAY op-ed that voting for Clinton was an easy choice.

Mr. Murren Goes to Washington

Murren was also asked about sports betting, and the MGM boss expectedly responded with support for legalizing the industry. MGM is based in Las Vegas where gambling on professional and college sports is legal.

“People love to bet on sports, and they love their daily fantasy sports,” Murren answered. “To drive this all to the underground and wish it were away is wrong.”

Murren is under the opinion that a Trump White House will be good for the ending of sports betting prohibition.

“I’m going to work with the American Gaming Association and my colleagues, and I hope to speak to the President-elect and Congress,” Murren continued. “Let’s regulate. Let’s be consistent in our regulation and give the American public what it wants.”

The American Gaming Association (AGA), a DC lobbying firm, has made sports betting legalization its primary target in recent months. AGA President Geoff Freeman said last month that illegal sports betting is a $150 billion annual industry.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 would need to be repealed in order for states to legalize sports betting.

Show Trump the Money

Murren, like so many others, certainly didn’t believe Trump would pull off the presidential upset. But now the casino leader will be forced to work with the former gambling boss-turned-president.

There’s seemingly no evidence to assume Trump will do anything but support casinos and gambling when he becomes president next month. Though he might endorse the banning online gaming due to Sheldon Adelson’s influence, Trump is a money-first politician who will likely base his presidential performance on the strength of the economy.

For MGM, the largest employer in Nevada, that’s good news.