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Upset of Cantor topples one of Adelson's closest Capitol Hill allies

11 June 2014

The stunning primary election defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R- Va., Tuesday removed one of Sheldon Adelson’s closest Capitol Hill allies from office.

Gaming and political analysts speculated Wednesday on the magnitude of Cantor’s defeat to a tea party-backed Republican and what it might mean for Adelson’s agenda in Washington, D.C. Adelson, chairman of casino giant Las Vegas Sands Corp., has invested at least $10 million in various Cantor-supported super-political action committees.

“Cantor is an important and influential voice for Adelson in forwarding agendas in the House, therefore the upset in the Virginia Republican Primary yesterday could imply a setback in initiatives including Adelson’s fight to push-down online gaming,” Union Gaming Group analyst Robert Shore said Wednesday.

Shore added that Cantor and Adelson “have had a working relationship” on issues including the anti-bribery Foreign Corrupt Practices Act reform and online gaming. Adelson and Cantor also shared a strong bond over Israel. Until Tuesday, Cantor was the highest ranking Jewish member of Congress.

Cantor announced Wednesday he would resign as majority leader next month.

A spokesman for Las Vegas Sands Corp. declined comment.

Adelson has vowed to spend “whatever it takes” to kill Internet gaming because of concerns over sufficient regulation, the potential damage to traditional land-based casinos, and worries over safeguards that would keep minors from gambling online.

The 80-year-old billionaire is reportedly behind legislation that would make all forms Internet gaming illegal.

The bill was introduced in Congress in March and its passage would shut down current online gaming operations in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey.

However, the legislation has not come up for a hearing.

One gaming source, who asked not to be named, said Cantor’s loss called into question any movement in Congress for or against online gaming. Lawmakers, the source said, were spooked by Cantor’s loss.

“If there is anything Washington hates, it’s uncertainty,” the source said.

Another gaming industry source said Cantor’s defeat could shelve immigration reform through the end of President Barack Obama’s second term in 2017. Lack of debate on that issue could sideline discussion over Internet gaming.

“Internet gaming pales in comparison to immigration reform,” the source said. “Not just Internet poker, nothing is going to move forward in Washington.”