Anti-online poker GOP donor Sheldon Adelson donates $75 million to Trump campaign

Jon Sofen
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Posted on 10/20/2020

Sheldon Adelson, who has long fought to ban online poker in the U.S., is doing his part in helping Donald Trump get re-elected.

The Las Vegas casino owner shipped another $75 million to Preserve America, a Trump-associated super PAC, less than three weeks from the upcoming election. Adelson has long been one of the top Republican donors, and donated to the former reality TV star’s campaign in 2016.

Trump is facing the potential of losing the White House to Democratic candidate Joe Biden, the former Vice President. According to nearly every poll, Biden holds a sizable lead. FiveThirtyEight, one of the top polling models, considers the long-time U.S. senator to have a 10-point lead over the current president.

But the presidential election isn’t won by popular, nationwide vote. As Americans learned in 2016 (and 2000), winning the popular vote doesn’t guarantee victory. The Electoral College is often determined by a handful of key swing states that may sway the election in Trump’s favor like they did four years ago. And Adelson is committed to helping make that happen.

Adelson is estimated to be worth $30 billion, per Forbes, and reportedly saved $700 million last year thanks to Trump’s tax cuts. Biden has proposed a tax hike for the wealthiest Americans. In response, the Venetian owner is ready to ante up to help stop him from winning the White House.

Adelson’s fight against online poker

As the CEO and founder of Sands Corp, a Las Vegas-based casino brand, Adelson has self-interests in mind, hence the reason he is helping Trump. As the owner of major casinos in the U.S., he’s long been opposed to online gambling.

During the Obama administration, in which Biden was involved, the Department of Justice gave a new interpretation of the Wire Act, which made it illegal to gamble online. In 2011, the DOJ reversed course and granted the right to individual states to determine legality for online gambling.

Since then, a handful of states, including Nevada where Adelson does business, have legalized online poker. Adelson is none too thrilled with the DOJ’s new interpretation of the Wire Act. As such, in 2014, he attempted to push through a Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill in an attempt to force the reversal of the DOJ’s 2011 Wire Act interpretation.

Had his efforts been successful, and he spent millions lobbying to make it happen, online poker would be illegal in the U.S., in every state. But in 2017, Congress struck down RAWA once and for all. That’s the good news for online poker players. The bad news is even at age 87, with billions of dollars worth of assets, Adelson isn’t ready to give up his fight to ban internet gambling nationwide.

Many poker players refuse to play at Venetian due to Adelson’s anti-online poker stance. But the card room is still one of the most popular places to play in Las Vegas.

Adelson’s money is now being spent to help re-elect Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States. Biden’s campaign had a $140 million lead in donations recently. Perhaps, Adelson’s money, which is going to be used on campaign ads across the U.S., will help level the playing field.

Featured image source: Flickr