Congress Gets Back in the Game: Revives Gaming Caucus
Posted on: January 15, 2020, 12:52h.
Last updated on: January 15, 2020, 05:00h.
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) are reviving the Congressional Gaming Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Some come from districts across the US that have exposure to the industry and some are from areas with little or no related footprint.
Including Reschenthaler and Thompson, the group has about 30 members, 19 of which are Democrats. Three of the four members of the Nevada US House delegation – Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican and Democrats Steven Horsford, and Dina Titus – belong to the newly minted group. Nevada is the largest gaming state in the country. Titus is the congresswoman for the area that’s home to the Las Vegas Strip.
Rep. Susie Lee, a Democrat representing the Silver State’s third congressional district, currently isn’t listed as a member of the caucus. Her district includes Boulder, Henderson and unincorporated parts of Clark County.
The Congressional Gaming Caucus wasn’t officially broken up, but it was dormant during the last Congress,” said Reschenthaler spokeswoman Elise Argall in remarks to Casino.org.
Reschenthaler’s district, Pennsylvania’s fourteenth, has two gaming properties — the Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin and The Meadows Racetrack and Casino.
The gaming industry is a major driver of US economic activity, employing 2 million Americans while accounting for $261 billion in output annually, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).
From high-profile executives to bartenders and table game dealers, the business is loaded with politically active participants, and politicians from both parties aren’t shy about cozying up to casino operators and their staff for campaign contributions and votes.
For example, Las Vegas has been a frequently visited destination by Democratic presidential hopefuls looking to drum up support from members of the powerful Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165.
MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren last year held a fundraiser for Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden, while Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, are among the largest donors to the Republican party.
Diverse Group, Geographically Speaking
The bulk of the members in the Congressional Gaming Caucus hail from districts that are home to casinos and racetracks. In addition to the aforementioned members from Nevada, the group’s participants include several representatives from New Jersey, including Rep. Scott Van Drew, who recently switched to being a Republican from a Democrat amid the President Trump impeachment controversy.
Other representatives in the caucus include some from Arizona, which only has tribal gaming venues, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who represents part of the Bay Area of California, a region with essentially no direct gaming industry exposure.
Thompson’s district, Mississippi’s second, is home to several of that state’s casinos and close to a slew of others.
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