Nevada’s gaming industry contributed over $1.2 million to 55 political campaigns in 2022, signaling a potential return to post-pandemic glory.
However, one operator is the top donator in the pre-pandemic and post-pandemic eras.
MGM top political donator among Nevada casinos
In pre-pandemic years, MGM Resorts routinely led the industry by giving upwards of $300,000 to Democratic campaigns. During the 2020 election year, the company gave an estimated $42,000. In 2022, its generous contribution skyrocketed to $277,000.
Over 80% of the company’s contributions went to legislative Democrats, including 10 of MGM’s top 12 recipients.
Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) lead all lawmakers by receiving $30,000 from MGM. A close second was Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) and Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui (D-Las Vegas). Both received $20,000.
During this past election cycle, the second highest contributor was a political action committee (PAC) launched by the Nevada Resort Association. The trade association, which represents almost 80 Nevada casinos across the state, contributed $180,000 to 18 winning candidates.
Political donations from Nevada gaming industry
As a whole, the Nevada gaming industry has a long way to go if it wants to return to pre-pandemic donation days.
Industry contributions to Nevada lawmakers (pre-pandemic):
- 2020: $769,000
- 2018: $1.6 million
- 2016: $1.9 million
Billy Vassiliadis, chief executive officer of marketing and public affairs firm R&R Partners, described gaming industry contributions as a “two-way obligation.”
Speaking with the Nevada Independent, Vassiliadis, who is also a lobbyist for the Nevada Resort Association, said:
“One is for the industry to support candidates they believe will better serve the state. And two — elected officials who understand both the importance of the industry … and the obligation to understand and work with the industry on issues that are of common threat to both. If the industry is doing well, the state does well, whether its revenue, the funding of education, all of the programs that are important.”
Vassiliadis said the Nevada gaming industry is the “the largest taxpayer, largest revenue generator and largest provider of health insurance.”
“Just about any public policy issue will have a disproportionate effect on an industry that is that much of this state’s economic infrastructure.”