Nevada Casino Industry Donates Combined $1m+ to Gubernatorial Candidates

  • Sisolak and Lombardo have received casino donations of $943,000 and $730,000, respectively
  • The Venetian is Sisolak’s biggest casino backer, while Golden Entertainment is Lombardo’s
  • The most significant Las Vegas casino companies have donated more to Sisolak’s campaign
  • Lombardo’s biggest donor is Budget Suites hotel chain owner Robert Bigelow
Steve Sisolak
Nevada’s two leading gubernatorial candidates, Steve Sisolak (pictured) and Joe Lombardo, have received more than $1m in campaign funds combined from the casino sector. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Big money flowing

The Nevada casino industry has made significant donations to the campaigns of the state’s two leading gubernatorial candidates.

Steve Sisolak has received about $943,000

Since 2021, current governor Steve Sisolak has received about $943,000 from the casino sector through his political action committee (PAC) and campaign. In contrast, the casino sector has donated approximately $730,000 to Sisolak’s main challenger Joe Lombardo since last year.

According to a leading gambling sector analyst quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, it is common for major casino operators to back both aides in a major political race.

Current Nevada state law dictates that organizations and individuals can only donate up to $5,000 per election to a candidate. There is also the option to donate up to $10,000 for both a general and primary election campaign. Finally, donors can also give unlimited sums to a candidate’s PAC.

The largest casino backers

Sisolak’s main casino backer so far is The Venetian, a property mainly operated by private equity firm Apollo Global Management. The casino has donated $40,000 to the campaign so far, as well as another $210,000 to the affiliated PAC. Next on the list of big donors is Caesars Entertainment, having given $90,000 in a variety of ways.

For Lombardo, the majority of his gaming-related donations have come from Golden Entertainment. The company, that operates the Strat and a number of rural casinos, has donated about $90,000 to the Republican. Next on the list is Boyd Gaming, which has given Lombardo’s campaign $30,000.

Democrat Steve Sisolak has served as the governor of Nevada since 2018. He played a big part in Vegas’ handling of the COVID-19 lockdowns and its reopening in June 2021. Meanwhile, Joe Lombardo is a former sheriff of Clark County, the district that contains the majority of Las Vegas.

Sisolak support high

Despite many casino companies donating to both candidates, it appears that they do have their favorites. The biggest Las Vegas casino companies like Caesars, MGM Resorts International, and Boyd Gaming have all given more to Sisolak than Lombardo. Similarly, Station Casinos has given $80,000 to the current governor, but nothing to Lombardo.

Bigelow has donated almost $2.7m to Lombardo

Numerous smaller, independent casinos have donated to the candidates, while Lombardo has a lot of backing from some of Las Vegas’ most influential gaming families. His biggest supporter is the owner of the Budget Suites hotel chain Robert Bigelow. Bigelow has donated almost $2.7m to Lombardo so far, which is a considerably greater sum than any other gubernatorial candidate has received to date.

Despite such a major donation, Sisolak still has a lot more funds to work with than Lombardo.