Sheldon Adelson Will Announce Support for a Candidate after Primaries Begin
Sheldon Adelson said on Friday he would wait until the Republican primaries in February before he decided which candidate to back. The chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp was the single-biggest donor to the GOP in the 2012 election cycle.
Adelson’s political allegiances were related as the 82-year old casino executive spoke at the opening of his new St. Regis Hotel in Macau. Speaking on behalf of his family, which helps the billionaire in his business enterprises, Adelson said, “Contrary to what people have been reading in the political publications, the Adelson family has not made up its mind as to who, if anybody, we are going to support.”
Republican Jewish Coalition Meetings
Sheldon Adelson’s patronage has been sought by most of the Republican field at one point or another throughout 2015. In the spring of 2015, four leading candidates — including Jeb Bush and Chris Christie — visited with Adelson in Las Vegas. That was at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual conference which takes place each year in Las Vegas. The candidates were said to have visited with him individually over a series of four days.
When the Republican Jewish Coalition gathered in December for its Presidential Forum in Washington DC, every remaining member of the Republican presidential field was in attendance. Adelson was out of the country at the time, but his presence was felt, as LVS executives and Adelson family members attended. Washington newspapers reported the candidates were vying for his patronage.
How the Primary Season Works
Despite the attention, the casino executive said he wants to wait until the leading candidates emerge to decide on how to support. The primary season begins on February 1, when the Iowa Caucuses happen. Adelson said he might wait until after the New Hampshire primary, or even the South Carolina primary, to make his decision. At the opening of the St. Regis, Adelson said, “We may just wait until a number of the primaries are already established.”
Adelson has seen enough political campaigns to know that winning in the polls in December is not the same as winning caucuses and primaries when voting really begins. Howard Dean in 2004 and Hillary Clinton in 2008 each held a larger percentage of the Democratic polling numbers than Donald Trump now holds among Republicans (40%), and each of their campaigns faced trouble in Iowa. Despite months as the frontrunner, Trump trails Ted Cruz in some Iowa polls. His candidacy would face serious trouble, if his aura of invincibility were punctured right out of the gate in Iowa.
Winning Control of the White House
The billionaire’s decision could have a tremendous effect on the state of online gambling in the United States. Adelson has pushed for the last 2 years for Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a bill in both houses of the US Congress which would ban online gambling throughout the United States. Adelson says he is concerned online gambling could prey on problem gamblers and underage gamblers, because he does not trust age verification software and other safeguards against gaming addiction through smartphones.
If Sheldon Adelson supported the winning GOP candidate and that politician went on to become President of the United States, it would make be much more likely the POTUS would sign Restore America’s Wire Act, if it ever came to his or her desk for signature. A winning presidential ticket usually helps congressional tickets, so a Republican win in the presidential contest would likely swing more seats to the GOP, firmly placing Adelson’s party in power. Adelson plans on spending $100 million on the election.
Obstacles to RAWA’s Passage
There are a number of complications with that plan. Traditional conservatives and libertarian-leaning Republicans do not like RAWA, because it expands the power of the federal government over state’s rights. Also, Adelson is more than a one-issue contributor. His chief issue is international politics, especially support for Israel and confronting Iran over its nuclear weapons program. The Las Vegas Sands CEO is likely to spend his political capital on other issues, too.
Then there is the question of whether the Republicans can win the presidency. Moderate Republicans are doing poorly in nationwide polls among GOP voters, while those who are seen as right wing politicians and radicals are garnering most of the support: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Dr. Ben Carson. Those candidates appeal to the Republican base, but serious questions remain whether a right-wing candidate would appeal to the moderate and independent voters they would need to collect a majority of votes (or delegates).
Prefers Any GOP Candidate to Hillary Clinton
That is not a concern for Sheldon Adelson. After hosting the 5th presidential debate the Venetian Las Vegas on Tuesday, he said that any of the remaining 12 GOP candidates were better than the Democratic Party’s alternative, as well as the current chief executive, President Barack Obama. While giving his remarks, he spoke little about his latest purchase: buying the Las Vegas Review-Journal for $140 million last week.
St. Regis Hotel in Macau
While he is empire-building in the United States, Adelson’s stop in Macau shows he knows where his power and influence reside. Most of the revenue for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation comes from China. LVS was the first American casino company to open a casino in China’s gambling capital of Macau, and the Venetian Macau is the most profitable casino in the world. The opening of the St. Regis Hotel in Macau is part of a plan to shore up the revenue streams out of Macua. Over the past 18 months, the gaming industy in the former Portuguese colony have collapsed, due to a weakening Chinese economy and interference by the Beijing government.
Adelson remains confident. During his remarks at the St. Regis, Sheldon Adelson spoke about the economic forecast in Macau. He said, “We are at the beginning of the shift in the cycle from a recession-type economy to a bottoming out, and I think the economy and Macau’s fortunes will turn around.”
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