Ted Cruz, Republican senator from the State of Texas, wants to be your President. If elected, it will likely be bad news for the gambling industry--both for real casinos and for the nascent online gambling world.
As a senator, when he had the chance to support the nation's casino industry and help increase tourism to places such as Las Vegas, he refused, and instead condemned casinos.
And now, as he runs for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, he seeks the support of a potential campaign contributor who is an outspoken critic of online gambling.
Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz, Jr., 45, began his political career in 2003 when he was appointed solicitor general of Texas, a key assistant to the state's attorney general.
He served in that role until 2008.
In 2012 he was elected U.S. senator from Texas.
In December of 2014, the U.S. Senate was debating a spending bill that among other things allotted $100 million annually to a government program that promoted U.S. tourism to foreigners.
One of the many goals of the program, called Brand USA, was promoting Las Vegas casinos to international tourists.
Cruz was against the bill and in an effort to derail it, teed off on Vegas and its lifeblood industry, casinos.
In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Cruz, according to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, referred to Brand USA as “another bit of corporate welfare” and added that it “is one of the current majority leader’s pet projects because it helps promote casinos in his home state. Last I checked, casinos were very profitable endeavors that didn’t need the taxpayers helping them out, didn’t need the Congress serving your hard-earned dollars and handing it out to promote casinos.”
The spending bill passed the Senate by a 56-40 vote.
More recently, Cruz has been seeking political--and more importantly, financial--support from casino magnate and multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who owns casinos in Las Vegas, Pennsyvlania and China and is a major player on the political donor stage.
In 2012, Adelson and his wife donated more than $50 million to Republican candidates running for President--first, Newt Gingrich during the primaries, then Mitt Romney after he won the nomination.
Adelson is a major opponent of online gambling, earlier this year getting U.S. senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, both of whom he's given Senate campaign contributions, to co-sponsor a bill in the U.S. Senate to ban online gambling in America.
The bill so far has gone nowhere.
Adelson and Cruz have had several meetings in recent months, most notably in Las Vegas and in New York, but the casino mogul hasn't yet decided which 2016 GOP candidate he's going to back.
It's likely that whoever it is--Rubio and Cruz are seen as the finalists--that candidate is going to back Adelson's adversary position on Internet gambling.
So first, Cruz refuses to help the casino industry.
Then he cozies up to and seeks the support of someone who's against online casinos because he wants to protect his real casinos.
No matter what, Cruz is no friend of casinos, online or offline, and certainly no friend to the casino industry or to gambling in general.
If he becomes President, gambling online might become a major crime.
Even in Las Vegas.
(For previous articles in Gambling 911's series on 2016 candidates and gambling issues, click on the POLITICS link on the home page.)
By Tom Somach
Gambling 911 Staff Writer