Nevada And New York Each Dealing With Gambling-Related Political Scandals

Sheldon Adelson
Some states, like Pennsylvania, are struggling when it comes to casino issues. Be it the ongoing tax debate or the slow, troublesome slug to online casino regulation, good news from the state feels few and far between these days.

This week, Nevada and New York can relate. After mostly positive gambling news, both states are now dealing with political scandals with casino ties.

Those states are focused on their own issues, while Massachusetts and Connecticut are increasingly preoccupied with one another’s casino industries. The turf war between these two New England states shows no signs of stopping and plenty of signs it will get worse before it gets better.

If only these states could get their act together the way New Jersey has. The Garden State is a resurgent casino destination. Certainly changes to Atlantic City itself are helping, but the real X factor in the turnaround? Online gambling.

Here is a look at how New Jersey is thriving as well as the trouble these other states are dealing with this week:

New Jersey’s casino future looking brighter

The benefits of synergy between land-based casinos and their online casino counterparts should not be underestimated. The continued rebound of Atlantic City casinos makes the connection difficult to deny. April revenue numbers for the state’s online casinos surpassed $20 million in total revenue for the second consecutive month.

While online casinos help boost land-based casino numbers, more investors are eyeing properties on the Boardwalk. Take, for example, Hard Rock International. The company bought the now-closed Taj Mahal Casino, built for $1 billion, for a bargain price of $50 million. The company got the casino on the cheap, but it is going all-out to completely overhaul the iconic property with a nearly $400 million renovation.

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Nevada and New York both have gambling-related political scandals

Both New York and Nevada are dealing with political scandals that are not painting casino operators in a very good light.

Ex-Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov is at the center of a federal criminal trial involving political operative Steve Pigeon. It is the third trial for Pigeon, who is also dealing with two separate New York state criminal trials involving bribery and election tampering.

Baazov is accused of illegally contributing $388,000 to Pigeon from 2010-2015, including a $25,000 contribution to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 campaign. As a Canadian, Baazov cannot financially contribute to American elections. In order to work around the law, he had an American lawyer make the donations for him.

Meanwhile, in Nevada the state’s Attorney General Adam Laxalt is dealing with his own scandal. The press released secretly recorded communication between Laxalt and Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett. In those recordings, Laxalt is trying to get Burnett to intervene on a civil matter involving casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

Parties in both cases deny wrongdoing.

Connecticut tribal casinos and MGM continue turf war

The gloves are officially off in the battle between MGM Resorts and Connecticut tribes over a proposed Connecticut casino. A couple of weeks ago, Connecticut casino employees converged on Hartford to lobby lawmakers about the proposed tribal casino in East Windsor, CT.

The tribes behind Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos escalated things by releasing an anti-MGM video online this week. This video uses the words of MGM executives to paint a negative picture of the operators.

Connecticut residents are concerned the upcoming MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts will hit the Connecticut casino industry hard. The East Windsor site, which is just 22 miles from Springfield, is the tribes’ attempt to keep the gambling revenue in state. MGM, on the other hand, wants the state to open up the bidding on a third casino. Moreover, MGM proposes a site closer to the New York state line, which is further away from its interests in Springfield.

Photo by lev radin / Shutterstock.com

About

Jessica Welman has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of Indiana University and USC, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.