Trump’s Newest Adelson Connection Could Be Bad News For Online Gambling

Steve Ruddock June 30, 2016 1975 Reads
Donald Trump Adelson connection Abboud

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has a new communications coordinator, and for those of us in the gaming industry the name will definitely ring a bell.

The presumptive nominee of the Republican Party has named Michael Abboud as his new communications coordinator. If the surname sounds familiar it’s because Michael Abboud is the nephew of Las Vegas Sands Vice President of Government Relations, Andy Abboud.

Andy Abboud is considered one of Sheldon Adelson’s top lieutenants, and the face of the casino magnate’s anti-online gambling movement.  Michael Abboud is also the son of former Nebraska State Senator Chris Abboud.

Andy Abboud has made many appearances in both Congress and in statehouses across the country, espousing Sheldon Adelson’s anti-online gambling views. Abboud is also a go-to source for the media when it comes to statements on the issue of online gambling.

Trump’s online gaming position yet to be fleshed out

The hire doesn’t necessarily mean Trump will adopt Adelson’s anti-online gaming stance, but it is worrisome.

While conventional wisdom once put Trump in the pro-online gambling camp, that stance is increasingly in doubt because of connections and money coming from Adelson.

After strongly supporting online gambling legalization back in 2011, Trump has been very quiet when it comes to his views on online gambling in the United States since.

Trump’s only public comments on the matter are old, but they were positive. Trump made the following statement to Forbes in 2011 in regards to online gambling: “It has to happen because many other countries are doing it and like usual the U.S. is just missing out.”

Trump also was involved in some sort of online gambling company in 2011 along with Marc Lasrey. The company, called  Poker Ventures LLC, applied for and received a vendor’s license in New Jersey in 2013, and is still listed as an active by the state. The purpose of the company is unclear, and it’s also unclear if it has had any active role in the industry.

One might think that given the statement, the formation of the company, and given Trump’s gaming background he would turn a deaf ear to the idea of a prohibition on online gambling. But as we’ve seen with Adelson and several other casino owners, owning land-based casinos doesn’t necessarily equate to support for legalizing online gambling.

Trump has also proven flexible when it comes to many policy positions, so his 2011 comments on online gambling are about as relevant in 2016 as a dot-matrix printer.

Adelson a late, but influential adopter of the Trump campaign

Adelson and Trump aren’t exactly what you would call aligned politically, but Adelson throatily endorsed Trump in May in an op-ed submitted to the Washington Post (a newspaper that Trump has ironically since stripped of its press credentials to cover his campaign):

“I am endorsing Trump’s bid for president and strongly encourage my fellow Republicans — especially our Republican elected officials, party loyalists and operatives, and those who provide important financial backing — to do the same.”

 Adelson’s endorsement carries greater implications than the typical PR boost.

According to The New York Times, Adelson is prepared to donate some $100 million to the presumptive Republican nominee for his general election fight with Hillary Clinton.

Campaign finance reports show the Trump campaign had just $1.3 million in cash in hand at the start of June. Compare this to Hillary Clinton’s campaign coffers, which were reported as having $42 million in cash on hand.

What’s it all mean?

Donald Trump’s latest hire may or may not have any influence on his online gambling stance, but it will not sit well with supporters of online poker and legalized online gambling either way.

Image credit: Gino Santa Maria / Shutterstock.com

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