Trump, Biden Woo Casino-Linked Voters as Gaming Properties Rebound

Posted on: September 27, 2020, 01:35h. 

Last updated on: September 29, 2020, 09:29h.

Presidential contenders Donald Trump and Joe Biden are trying to capture the support of voters concerned with the gaming industry as it struggles with the impact of coronavirus. But their positions differ based on whether the candidates are reaching out to casino owners or union members, a gaming expert said.

Trump, Biden Casino Workers
Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) and President Donald Trump will face off in their first debate on Tuesday. There are some differences between the candidates on issues that impact casinos. (Image: Mark Makela/Reuters (left). David Becker/Getty Images (right)

Trump wants all businesses, including casinos and related venues, to reopen as quickly as possible despite coronavirus risk, says the Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who follows gambling trends. But Biden, the former Democratic vice president, would propose another lockdown if COVID-19 sees a resurgence, McGowan said.

The workers have to be concerned about their safety, while the owners want revenue,” McGowan explained to “So, from the operators’ point of view … Trump is preferable. From a worker safety point of view, Biden is the choice.”

The choice of president could impact the regulatory and legal climate for casinos and gambling. Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) already has argued for restrictions on online betting in states.

During Trump’s first term, the DOJ “continues to oppose the rights of states to offer internet gambling,” said Anthony Cabot, Distinguished Fellow in Gaming Law at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law, to “But these efforts are failing in the courts.”

Cabot explained that states are “disregarding Trump’s efforts to restrain online gambling.” Some 17 states are offering online sports wagering, and more are likely.

In contrast, Biden told a Culinary Union audience that he opposed adding “unnecessary restrictions” to the gaming sector. The union said last December’s comments by Biden were a reference to the Wire Act.

Supreme Court Weighs In

The ongoing path to legalization of sports betting came about with a 6-3 Supreme Court decision in Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association. That 2018 ruling led to the overturning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

The three justices opposing the majority opinion in the case were each appointed by a Democratic president. With just weeks to the election, Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, to the high court. She is seen as “very pro-business and therefore generally supportive of casino interests,” said Robert Jarvis, a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law, to

Looking ahead, there are three casino-related issues likely to be addressed by the Supreme Court. These are sports betting, tribal gambling (especially relating to where casinos can be built), and online gambling, Jarvis said.

With the Nov. 3 election around the corner, there are also continuing warnings from the hospitality sector about the impact of the pandemic. Earlier this month, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) admonished in a message aimed at members of Congress that 67 percent of US hotels can’t last another six months without federal assistance.

Already, MGM Resorts has permanently laid off some 18,000 positions nationwide. More industry layoffs are likely.

Tribal casinos also report financial challenges. But neither presidential candidate has made it a top priority to bail out casinos.

Minimal Direct Impact on Casinos

As far as brick-and-mortar commercial gaming properties, the presidential election has “minimal direct impact on the land-based casino industry,” Cabot said.

The industry has long passed its pariah statusm and both parties respect the rights of the individual states to determine whether to have land-based casinos and to regulate them,” Cabot added.

Overall, casinos are likely are not a major concern to voters this year, especially when compared to past years. But high-profile casino owners are among key donors to the Trump campaign. These include Las Vegas Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is prepared to contribute up to $50 million to help Trump win reelection.

Red Rock Resorts owners Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III also are major donors to the Republican Party and to Trump.

Unions, such as Nevada’s influential Culinary Union, endorsed Biden. He has called upon Station Casinos and parent company Red Rock Resorts to negotiate immediately with workers at several Nevada casinos.

National Polls Favor Biden, Close Race in Nevada

US wagering is prohibited on political betting. But earlier this month, the betting average at UK books have the race rather close, with Biden holding a 53 percent chance of winning, to Trump at 46.3 percent. PredictIt, the online betting exchange, has the Democratic candidate a heavier favorite.

In an ABC News/Washington Post national poll released this weekend, Biden was favored by 54 percent of likely voters, with Trump at 44 percent. In Nevada, Biden has 49 percent, with Trump at 48 percent.