In the last year, USA Today reports here on March 31, the gaming industry lobbied Congress to the tune of $25 million. The American Gaming Association, which represents commercial casino interests, spent $900,000. With friends in high places, the AGA’s president, Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., expects the industry to have success in the coming year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-NV, has been a long-time supporter of commercial gaming (for obvious reasons); House Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., heads up the House Judiciary Committee. Opponents of a 2006 ban on Internet gaming are lining up to see it reversed.
Yet it’s telling that Fahrenkopf’s group feels unfairly tarred by the Jack Abramoff scandal. "Even though we didn't have anything to do with it, we all tend to get labeled," he said.
The Indian gaming industry, of course, has taken the real heat from Abramoff’s transgressions vis-à-vis a small number of tribes. Although Abramoff bilked them out of millions of dollars, tribes – not the commercial industry – have been scrutinized for their attempts to lobby and influence the political process.
Tribal gaming interests have pulled back in the wake of the Abramoff scandal, as evidenced by a significant drop in spending on lobbyists. In the last year, tribes lobbied at the federal level to the tune of $16 million –- a 25% drop over the prior year.
We predicted this outcome in our July 2006 article in the Gaming Law Review. We discuss that and more in “The ‘Tribal Loophole’: Federal Campaign Finance Law and Tribal Political Participation After Jack Abramoff,” Gaming Law Review 10 (2006): 230-39.
Labels: Tribal Political Influence