George W. Bush gave the nation’s gambling industry plenty of reason to fear his presidency, reports the Boston Globe. He moved to shut down an Indian-run casino while governor of Texas. He declared in a widely circulated state report that ”Casino gambling is not OK. It has ruined the lives of too many adults, and it can do the same thing to our children.” He wooed religious conservatives by boasting in a presidential debate about his ”strong antigambling record.”
But as president, Bush has not spoken out against gambling. After promising not to take money from gambling interests, Bush’s campaign fund accepted large contributions from gambling-related sources. His 2001 inaugural committee raised at least $300,000 from gambling interests, including gifts from MGM/Mirage, Sands, and a leading slot-machine maker. Bush later appeared at a Las Vegas casino for a fund-raiser for his reelection campaign. Bush’s retreat from his antigambling rhetoric came as Republican lobbyists and activist groups collected tens of millions of dollars from Indian tribes seeking to preserve their casinos. Now those payments are the focus of Senate and Justice Department investigations.