Gambling Industry Congressional Campaign Contributions

(October 25, 1999) The political action committees of the major land based gambling casino companies are been big contributors to Congressional campaigns. For several years, the House and Senate have been considering the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.

Related Pages
Tech Law Journal Summary of Internet Gambling Bills in the 106th Congress.
S 692 RS, (Kyl bill).
HR 3125, (Goodlatte bill).

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the sponsor of S 692, addressed the scope of contributions from the gambling industry at the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on March 23, 1999. "I think all of us could live quite comfortably on all the money that was spent just last year, and is likely to be spent this year, lobbying against this legislation."

However, he did not elaborate on who was giving the money.

Sen. Kyl introduced a bill in the 105th Congress (S 474) that was a simple ban on Internet gambling. However, to win support, and eliminate opposition, he has had to change the bill. By the time the latest version was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, it had ballooned out with numerous exceptions, exemptions, immunities, and loopholes.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced HR 3125 on October 21. It is based on the Kyl bill, but contains further qualifications.

Both bills now prohibit the business of online casinos, but do not affect the land based and riverboat casinos, and their associated Internet activities. The bills now would  protect the Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos from competition from Internet casinos.

The brick and mortar casinos, and their associated hotels, have provided substantial contributions to Congressional parties, PACs, and candidates.

The following table sets forth Federal Elections Commission (FEC) data on contributions from some of the political action committees of the land based casino gambling industry. This probable only scrapes the surface. This data does not reflect contributions by other PACs. Nor does it include spending on lobbyists, consultants, or public relations firms. Nor does it reflect contributions by individuals who are shareholders, officers, or employees.

Contributions to Federal Candidates, PACs, and Parties by Select Gambling Industry Political Action Committees

PAC 1998
Boyd Gaming $102,500 $31,397
Circus Circus 45,500 15,700
Harrah's 428,650 77,000
International Game Technology 53,600 7,000
MGM Grand 73,024 17,000
Mirage 164,596 29,000
Park Place (formed 12/31/98; new owner of Ceasar's) NA ?
Starwood (former owner of Ceasar's) 97,804 ?
Station Casinos 70,700 36,500
Tropicana Resort 29,000 1,000
Source: FEC Info, visited October 24, 1999.

Harrah's PAC alone gave over $428,000 in the 1998 election cycle. To put this in perspective, the Microsoft PAC, which has been criticized by the media for the scope of its contributions, gave much less in the same time period -- $264,500. Other leading contributors in the computer and Internet industry were Oracle PAC ($42,500), Compaq PAC ($33,000), Intel PAC ($81,007), and Texas Instruments ($45,250). Actually, many major high tech companies do not even have a PAC.

FEC records also show that much of this money went to House and Senate party campaign committees. Also, all of the Nevada delegation was rewarded well, as was Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), who represents Atlantic City.

Tech Law Journal searched for, but could not find, a similar pattern of contributions from online gambling interests.

Neither Rep. Bob Goodlatte nor Sen. Jon Kyl have been beneficiaries of the gambling industry's largess.


Related Stories

Senate Passes Internet Gambling Ban, 7/24/98.
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Internet Gambling, 3/24/99.
Sen. Kyl Introduces Internet Gambling Bill, 3/30/99.
Rep. Goodlatte Introduces Net Gambling Prohibition Bill, 10/25/99.
Net Gambling Bills Protect Established Gambling Interests, 10/25/99.