Las Vegas Casinos and Executives Funding Nevada Governors’ Campaigns

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Posted on: February 27, 2022, 11:18 a.m.

Last update on: February 27, 2022, 11:18 a.m.

Las Vegas casinos and the billionaires who own them are donating large sums of money down the political aisle for Nevada’s 2022 gubernatorial election.

Governor of Nevada Sisolak Lombardo Las Vegas
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and then-Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, Nevada Governor, appear together at a press conference in 2017. The pair are expected to face off for governor of Nevada in 2022. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) endured a tough first term as governor. The former Clark County Commissioner’s first four years in the preeminent state government role will be widely remembered for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo is emerging as the clear favorite to challenge Sisolak. Nevada’s 2022 gubernatorial election is scheduled for Nov. 8. Lombardo is perhaps best known for being the face of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s (LVMPD) response to the October 1, 2017 mass shooting that occurred in Mandalay Bay. The horrific event claimed 58 lives.

The most powerful people in Las Vegas, including casino owners and executives, fund the Sisolak and Lombardo campaigns. The latest PredictIt betting market on the outcome gives the Republican candidate a 59% chance of victory.

Support for re-election

Sisolak faces a tough re-election in Nevada, a rather unique state in that it votes both red and blue. Of Nevada’s last 10 governors, five were Democrats and five Republicans.

As for his efforts in 2022, Sisolak is getting a lot of money from casino interest.

The 2021 campaign finance records provided show that Sisolak received $10,000 in cash contributions last year from several MGM Resorts casinos, including Excalibur, Aria, Park MGM, Vdara, Luxor and New York-New York. MGM’s Signature Condominiums and Shadow Creek Golf Course also donated $10,000 each.

MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle and former MGM CEO Jim Murren each bequeathed the maximum amount of $10,000. Las Vegas Sands CEO Rob Goldstein also donated that amount.

Caesars Entertainment sent numerous checks for $10,000 to Sisolak through Caesars Palace, Paris, Planet Hollywood and Bally’s. Caesars CEO Tom Reeg didn’t back down, however.

The billionaire Fertitta family, owners of Station Casinos and majority shareholders of Red Rock Resorts, also spread their Sisolak donations. Although typically Republicans, Frank Fertitta III and his brother Lorenzo Fertitta each gave $10,000 to Sisolak.

Frank’s wife, Jill Fertitta, and their daughters Victoria and Kelley-Ann also donated $10,000 each. Angele, Lorenzo’s wife, did it too. Two trust funds controlled by Fertitta further donated a total of $20,000. In total, Sisolak’s 2022 campaign raised $80,000 from the Fertittas.

The Sisolak campaign brought in total monetary contributions of $4.31 million in 2021.

Lombardo financing

On the Republican side, Lombardo’s campaign revealed $2.9 million in monetary contributions last year.

MGM Resorts is also a major donor on the Republican side. MGM Resorts International donated $10,000 to Lombardo’s political aspirations, plus $5,000 each from Mirage and Excalibur.

Treasure Island and Circus Circus owner Phil Ruffin, a dedicated GOP donor who was a strong supporter of former Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, gave Lombardo $10,000. UFC President Dana White – also a resilient Republican supporter – wrote a check for $10,000.

South Point owner Michael Gaughan donated $10,000. Boyd Gaming is also supporting Lombardo, the company giving away $25,000 through its Cannery, Suncoast, The Orleans and Sam’s Town casinos.

Disgraced casino billionaire Steve Wynn and his wife Andrea have together donated $20,000.

Westgate Resort & Casino and Aliante Hotel & Casino each donated $5,000. Marnell Gaming and Mesquite Gaming each donated $10,000.

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