Gaming bullish on Trump presidency but needs new Capitol Hill champ now that Reid’s retired, gaming expert says
January 5, 2017 – by Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
The American Gaming Association is reportedly bullish on a Donald Trump presidency, as the nation will soon have a former casino-resort owner in the White House.
A Nevada gaming expert agrees that Trump may be good for the gaming, which is a cornerstone of the Silver State’s economy.
“Certainly, having someone who understands the many facets of the industry can only be positive,” said Sean McGuinness, a partner in the gaming-practice group of Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie law firm.
The AGA’s play toward Trump, however, might be due to the departure of it’s biggest supporter on Capitol Hill — former Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nv., McGuinness said.
Reid, leader of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate, was a staunch supporter of Nevada’s gaming industry and friendly with the AGA.
“I think why the AGA is bullish on Trump and why the statement came out has to do with the retirement of Harry Reid, who used to be the chair of the (Nevada) Gaming Commission a long, long time ago,” McGuinness said during a broadcast of Nevada Newsmakers.
“He was the voice of the gaming industry on Capitol Hill, in dealing with the federal government — whether it is with the senators or members in the House,” McGuinness said of Reid.
The AGA has already taken a pro-active approach with Trump, sending his transition team a policy memo last month. In it, the AGA pushed for the repeal of the federal prohibition on sports betting and urged incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fight illegal gaming.
While the AGA is enthusiastic about Trump, it is also calling for Trump to take a “reasonable approach” to immigration.
Geoff Freeman, the president and CEO of the AGA, told The Hill and other journalists that he hopes Trump will help build, “a welcoming environment for foreign visitors, many of whom are interested in enjoying the casino gaming environment.”
McGuinness said the AGA makes a “valid point.”
“I have not heard anybody express that concern except Geoff and the AGA,” he said. “But I think he has a valid point, especially, when you look at Las Vegas. There’s a lot of foreign travel there and you want to have a welcoming environment.”
Trump’s tough talk during the presidential campaign on immigration may not be the way he operates as the nation’s leader, McGuinness said.
“There has sort of been a step back on a lot of the things that were said during the campaign,” McGuinness said. “It will be interesting to see what actually ends up happening on the immigration field under a Trump Administration.”
In seeking new leaders for the gaming industry in Congress, Nevada’s current senators — Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto — are well versed in gaming issues, McGuinness said.
Yet “Harry Reid’s shoes are big shoes to fill,” he said.
“I think the big question, is: Will other senators look toward them (Heller and Cortez Masto) when some gaming issue comes up in the same way they did with Sen. Reid?” McGuinness said.
McGuinness did legal work for Trump in the mid 1990s when Trump was exploring the possibility to operate a casino-resort in Mississippi.
McGuinness did not directly answer when asked if Trump was a good casino operator.
Trump’s casino companies have filed for bankruptcy four times — according to The Center For Public Integrity — but Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy. Trump has boasted that playing with bankruptcy laws has been a smart business tactic.
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