US casino bosses putting their chips behind McCain

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Washington, Oct 25 : A handful of tycoons, who control the gambling industry in America, are playing an unprecedented role by putting all their money behind Senator John McCain in Nevada, a key battleground state.

McCain's Vegas team of five includes billionaires Sheldon Adelson, of Las Vegas Sands and longtime Democrat Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts. They're acting as "bundlers," mega-fundraisers, who, critics say, get special access.

One of their posh events last June carried a 1,000-dollar ante; 10,000 dollar got donors into a VIP reception with McCain; and 33,000 dollar bought access to an even more exclusive reception.

The casino bosses wouldn't talk to us, so we got the scoop from Ray Poirier, of "Gaming Today."

"What's different about this presidential election that would motivate them to get that heavily involved?" CBS News asked.

"I don't think they've encountered this kind of concern in the past," Poirier said.

Poirier says they worry Obama would be a big regulator - and cost them billions. "It could bring problems with unions; it could bring problems with taxes," he said.

As for McCain - he too was once viewed as hostile to gambling after he tried to ban sports betting. He failed after the gaming industry flooded Congress with campaign donations.

"This is all about money!" McCain said in 2001. "This is all about 10 million dollar in campaign contributions by the gambling industry."

Today, McCain is accepting donations from some of the same players. His office didn't return our calls, but according to federal records, his gaming-related donations reach 2 million dollars or more.

Over 36 million people every year come to Las Vegas embraces, each looking to get lucky and get rich. But the casinos aren't nearly so welcoming when it comes to Washington regulations and in Campaign '08, they're leaving nothing to chance, CBS News reports.

ANI

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