Sarah Palin says, “vote for Newt, annoy a liberal, vote Newt.” I say, “Vote Newt, please, because the concurrent stream of Sheldon Adelson stories is a blogger’s dream come true. Keep that gravy train going!” (Besides, it’s had the side benefit of getting people talking about Space: 1999 again. Loved that show.) OK, I’m being facetious. S&G never, ever, ever endorses candidates — though, as a public service, I’m always happy to point on which ones are pro- and anti-casino. (More on that below.) But these last couple of weeks, watching Sheldon try to play Machiavellian mastermind and simultaneously scuttle for cover like a palmetto bug, have been great fun. It would be a pity to see it end quite so soon.
This ad is brought to you by Sheldon Adelson.
Speaking of which … how might Adelson’s funding of a scorched-earth campaign against — to use the newest meme — “Massachusetts liberal” Mitt Romney backfire upon the mogul’s years of efforts to get a casino in his home state? Could this have something to do with Adelson’s ambivalence toward the Bay State while everyone from Steve Wynn to Ameristar Casinos is going all in? Sheldon’s political hobby has clearly distracted him from his 9-to-5 responsibility: improving the fortunes of Las Vegas Sands‘ shareholders … a cause that would be well served by getting Sands’ butt into gear in Massachusetts, where LVS has faded to the rear of the PAC, er, pack.
Incidentally, if Adelson is serious about moving to Israel, I’d miss having the ancient despot around, but there’s no shortage of Las Vegans who’d gladly volunteer to load the moving van, escort him to the airport and make sure he got on the plane. Meanwhile, his current charity of preference is running from Sheldon as fast as he can, talking at lot more like Dr. James Dobson than the BFF of the world’s richest casino magnate. Unlike his benefactor, Mr. G sees the (utterly predictable), Adelson-generated Bible Belt backlash coming his way and belatedly wants to sidestep it. Why the two confederates didn’t anticipate it sooner is anyone’s guess.
On the subject of amusement value — and elections — David Pennock has been doing a little oddsmaking on the GOP veepstakes and it will give Atlantic City cause for worry. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is gaining momentum, which is bad news. His efforts to reconfigure the Garden State’s gaming industry into a sounder framework are still in their early stages. Heck, a couple of Democratic state senators, including perennial gadfly Raymond Lesniak (left), aren’t even waiting for the proof of the A.C. pudding. Lesniak and panicky cohort Paul Sarlo are already raising the white flag over the Boardwalk. They’re reviving the casino-in-the-Meadowslands wheeze, a golden oldie they should have been spinning two years ago, before the Hanson Commission’s recommendations were enacted into law.
With Christie off the scene, the abandonment of Atlantic City would accelerate considerably. (For example, his predecessor, Jon Corzine [D], had years to address the situation and never did jack.) Since casinos in New York State couldn’t go Class III until early 2014, at best, that at least would give Meadowlands a viable chance to come on line first. All that’s needed is an operator who’s got the wherewithal to undertake a high-cost/fast-turnaround project on short notice. Which means, Las Vegas Sands, we’re not looking at you.
Riffling through the rest of Pennock’s rankings, current frontrunner — and gambling opponent — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) would at least be moved someplace where couldn’t do any harm. Casinophobic Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA) is a bit ahead of Nevada’s own Gov. Brian Sandoval — you go, guv! — who’s a whisker in front of anti-gaming South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (right), In the extreme-long-shot category, Pennock has gaming ally Haley Barbour and enemy Jeb Bush, casino spokesmodel Donald Trump, plus shakedown artist Gov. John Kasich (OH). I mention this purely for entertainment purposes (much as Johnny Avello posts Academy Award odds at Wynncore). But if Kasich got the nod, you wonder if he’d have the nerve to rattle his tin cup at Caesars Entertainment and Penn National Gaming. He bitch-slapped them around pretty hard last year but Caesars and Penn do have an abusive-codependent relationship with Buckeye State chief executive.
If you haven’t been to Las Vegas this January, you’re really missing out. Thanks to La Niña, virtually the entire month has been ideal weather: sunny with highs in the 60s. (This is not so good for the snow packs in the mountains and, consequently, not for Lake Mead.) Visitation seems really strong this month, but we won’t know for sure until March, when the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority makes it official.