Nevada Gaming Control Board Is “Monitoring” Las Vegas Review-Journal Purchase
The Nevada Gaming Control Board is monitoring the $140 million sale of the Las Vegas Review-Journal to the family of Sheldon Adelson. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has the largest circulation of any newspaper in Las Vegas, giving Adelson a key voice in the State of Nevada.
When asked whether his regulatory agency was probing the purchase, Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said his board regularly monitors casino companies and other gaming licensees. Burnett said that officials want to keep gambling companies from taking actions that “might reflect discredit on the state”. At the same time, Burnett said there is nothing in the state laws which prohibit a casino owner from also owning a prominent newspaper.
Policies on Medical Marijuana
This is not the first time the gaming regulator has questioned the outside business interests of casino companies, though. In October 2014, the Gaming Control Board announced casino operators could not invest in the medical marijuana industry. Because the drug remains illegal under federal law, the Control Board was concerned the casino interests in the marijuana industry would lead to a federal crackdown.
Las Vegas gaming companies have owned newspapers before, though. Brian Greenspun, who manages the Las Vegas Sun, maintained his interest in the newspaper for years while owning shares of casino companies. Greenspun sold his gaming investments in 2014. Still, this is the first time the majority owner of a Las Vegas Strip casino has owned a major local newspaper.
District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez Assignment
The question came after rumors surfaced that the Las Vegas Review-Journal had assigned reporters to investigate a judge who is presiding over a lawsuit against Sheldon Adelson and his gaming company (District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, who presides over Jacobs v. Sands). The implication is the casino mogul wants dirt on the judge as a form of intimidation or blackmail, though one has to admit it would be less provocative and better public relations to hire private investigators in such an instance. Of course, the rumors might be nothing more than fabrication, though reporters at the Review-Journal should be able to confirm the truth rather quickly.
The Adelson family conducted the sale of the Las Vegas Review-Journal with an unusual level of secrecy. The Adelsons bought the newspaper anonymously through a third party, then denied owning the business even after publications were able to trace the trail back to Sheldon Adelson.
News + Media LLC
When the Las Vegas Review-Journal was sold earlier in December, the ownership group was named simply as “News + Media LLC”. The ownership group was listed as a Delaware corporation, where most US corporations are registered, but gave no indication Sheldon Adelson or his family were involved. Only Connecticut newspaper owner Michael Schroeder was listed as a manager of the holding company which owned the paper.
Over the next week, rumors spread that Adelson had a hand in the purchase. Bloomberg noted a connection between the gaming mogul and Michael Schroeder. A week later, the Review-Journal itself revealed that Patrick Dumont, the son-in-law of Sheldon Adelson since 2008, had orchestrated the purchase.
Since then, members of the family have said little on the purchase. Sheldon Adelson himself spoke about the sale to Asian media outlets, but he made contradictory statements on the topic. The gaming media and financial analysts alike have question why Adelson would make the $140 million purchase. Given the troubled nature of the print newspaper business and the vast revenues the Las Vegas Sands Corporation generates each year, no one seriously thought the purchase was motivated by a profit motive.
Israel Hayom Newspaper
In fact, some pointed to Adelson’s ownership of Israeli newspapers as a possible motivation. In Israel, Sheldon Adelson owns and publishes “Israel Hayom”, the country’s newspaper with the largest circulation. Israel Hayom is a free newspaper, used by Adelson to publicize his conservative views and support for the Likud Party.
With that in mind, most believe the purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal is a political move. Owning the newspaper with the biggest circulation in the state’s largest city gives Sheldon Adelson and his family a platform to set the media agenda in Nevada, to a certain degree.
2016 US Presidential Election
The gaming executive is known to have a major interest in the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, as he has pledged to contribute in excess of $100 million to the Republican Party in 2016. The 2016 GOP caucus in Nevada is fourth in the primary season, giving Nevada a significant voice in who gains the nomination for the Republicans. Adelson might want a voice in the run-up to the February 27 Nevada caucus (Feb. 20 for Democrats), as well as the general election.
If Sheldon Adelson’s motives are political and not personal, then A.G. Burnett and the Nevada Gaming Control Board are less likely to interfere in the purchase of a newspaper. But if those rumors are true that the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s reporters might be used to gather information on those standing in Adelson’s way (like the judge), that would be another matter entirely.
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