Trump To Campaign In Las Vegas For Internet Gambling Foe

July 7, 2022
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Beleaguered former President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas for a U.S. Senate candidate in Nevada who opposes internet gambling.

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Beleaguered former President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend a campaign rally on Friday (July 8) in Las Vegas for a U.S. Senate candidate in Nevada who opposes internet gambling.

Trump, who is enduring a withering probe by a U.S. House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, has endorsed former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt in his race against Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto.

“It will be interesting to see if the interests that support online gaming will still contribute to a candidate who opposes that effort, and who continues to spread the ‘Big Lie’ about the 2020 [presidential] election,” said Michael Green, an associate professor of history at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

Laxalt has never accepted the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election which he claims was stolen from Trump by President Biden and Democrats.

It is unclear how much Laxalt’s opposition to internet gambling will affect his campaign this year against Masto.

"Senator Masto and President Biden have wrecked Nevada's economy with policies that launched prices into the stratosphere and left businesses reeling," Courtney Holland, communications director for Laxalt's campaign, told VIXIO in an email.

"And while the legality of online gambling has been decided by a court, the future success of Nevada's economy depends on a change of direction in Washington," Holland said.

Masto's campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

On December 7, 2015, Laxalt joined seven attorneys general in other states in co-signing a letter urging the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees to ban internet gambling.

On November 17, 2016, shortly after Trump’s presidential election victory, Laxalt joined nine other attorneys general in co-signing a similar letter addressed to then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Trump’s presidential transition team.

On November 2, 2018, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the U.S. Department of Justice drafted an opinion extending the federal Wire Act's prohibitions on interstate wagering transmissions to all forms of gambling, potentially outlawing all online gaming activities.

The opinion, which panicked the entire gambling industry when it became official on January 14, 2019, was eventually overturned by federal courts.

During a June 23 hearing by the House Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection, Steven Engel, the head of the OLC who wrote the opinion, said he told Trump he would resign before participating in any effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Engel has never said if Trump ordered him to write the opinion on the Wire Act.

Trump’s biggest campaign donor, Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson, aggressively sought to abolish internet gambling before his death in January 2021.

Adelson also was a huge financial supporter of Laxalt, who is the grandson of former Nevada Governor and U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt.

Adam Laxalt found himself in hot water in March 2016 when he asked the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, A.G. Burnett, to intervene on behalf of Adelson in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former Las Vegas Sands employee.

Burnett taped the conversation without Laxalt’s knowledge.

The uproar following the tape’s disclosure led to a hearing in the Nevada legislature, but the FBI concluded no crime was committed and Laxalt emerged from the controversy relatively unscathed.

Burnett, who is now a partner at the McDonald Carano law firm in Reno, Nevada, declined to comment on the incident when contacted this week by VIXIO.

Opposition to gambling expansion is sacrilegious for politicians in Nevada, the only state where gaming is the number one industry.

But that has not stopped Laxalt, who will turn 44 next month, from continuing to run for high office in Nevada.

Laxalt was the Republican nominee for governor in 2018, but lost by four points to Democrat Steve Sisolak, who is running for re-election this year.

In a June 24-June 27 poll released by Future Majority, Masto leads Laxalt by 46 percent to 43 percent.

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