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Steve Tetreault

Gaming claims a place in presidential race

12 August 2015

WASHINGTON — The gaming and resort industries on Tuesday staked out a spot in the presidential race taking shape in Nevada, reminding leaders of their importance to the state's economy, as well as the votes of thousands of their workers.

"As you engage with presidential campaigns and candidates, officially or unofficially we urge you to impress upon them the importance of supporting gaming ...," top industry executives said in a letter to five dozen Nevada elected leaders from Gov. Brian Sandoval on down.

"No matter which candidate you prefer in the upcoming caucuses, each of them will boost their chances of winning the Silver State by taking a stand in support of gaming," was the message from Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive of the American Gaming Association, and Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resorts Association.

"Some candidates require more education than others, and you can play a tremendous role in this education process," the executives said without naming names.

Nobody has yet emerged from the large but early field of presidential contenders as an unofficial favorite of gaming. Several including Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have been on record as opposing industry expansion in their home state of Florida while others have demonstrated varying opinions.

The Nevada push is the latest segment of the industry's "Gaming Votes" campaign that seeks to emphasize the economic clout of casinos and related businesses in states expected to play a big role in the upcoming elections.

In Nevada, Freeman and Valentine reminded that $8 billion in taxes paid by the industry makes up almost half the state's general fund revenue. The industry supports 425,000 jobs, they said.

The American Gaming Association that represents commercial casinos, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and some Native American gaming tribes, does not plan to endorse a candidate, although individual companies might become active. But the gaming association is preparing a voter guide for employees outlining candidate views on immigration reform, cyber-security, tax reform and other issues important to the industry.

"We will ensure gaming employees have all the information needed to make their decision during the caucuses this winter and on Election Day in November 2016," Freeman and Valentine said.
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