Donald Trump has opinions. Lots of ’em. But when it comes to legal online gambling, where does the president stand?
Trump has owned multiple casinos, including the now shuttered Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey, so he’s obviously not averse to the brick-and-morter gambling world.
But online gambling is a different animal. We know certain casino magnates (Sheldon Adelson comes to mind) are actually against wagering online.
So with a pro-business background and a long history inside casinos, would Trump push for online gambling expansion (four states now allow it) or look to curb this potential trend?
From Brooklyn kid to gambling tycoon
Let’s review the president’s gambling history. Trump first became involved with the industry in the early 1980s when he obtained a casino license with the intent to build his own property on the famous Atlantic City boardwalk.
He later became involved in a venture with the Harrah’s-owned Holiday Inn Casino Hotel. In 1986, two years after the venue opened, Trump became a majority shareholder, renaming it Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, according to Casino.org.
For $555 million, he also purchased the Atlantic City Hilton Hotel and Casino and Taj Mahal in the mid-80s. He renamed them Trump Marina and Trump Taj Mahal, respectively.
Then, in 1995, he established Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts as a public trading company, buying both the Trump Marina and Trump Taj Mahal for $1.38 billion. The company later opened Trump’s World’s Fair in Atlantic City and acquired the Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella, California.
And, of course, we all know the tales of his company’s many bankruptcies.
According to Politifact, Trump’s four bankruptcies were Chapter 11 reorganizations, which are designed to restructure businesses without shutting them down completely. That failed.
Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts became Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2004, and is now a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises. All of its original casinos have closed.
More than anything, Trump likes the control. It doesn’t seem to matter in what business. He just wants his name on the biggest and best. That’s particularly evident in Trump’s chase for a casino in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Lennie Grimaldi, who worked as Trump’s chief spokesman in the 1990s, told the Hartford Courant in 2016 of his former boss’s outspokenness about casinos.
“When he hired me, he said, ‘Look, if a casino happens, I want it,'” Grimaldi said. “If I can’t have it, I want to kill it.”
That shows a person who wants to succeed at business and make money. Period. Not someone interested in allowing plentiful gambling. He wanted to control the market and the industry.
Today, it’s possible that Trump has completely soured on the subject, especially after hearing so much about his company’s bankruptcies during the presidential campaign.
Fast forward to the future
Most recently, according to NJ.com, the Trump administration is siding with the NFL and other professional sports leagues in their opposition to allowing New Jersey to offer sports betting at its casinos and racetracks.
And look who he’s against. Ironcially, Gov. Chris Christie, also a Republican and sometimes Trump frenemy, is challenging that law because he sees it as a way to boost the sports and gambling industries.
But Trump is not on board.
So is that enough to make a final assessment of Trump’s opinion of online gambling.
Right now, it seems unlikely that he’d faovronline gambling. But, hey, place your bets anyways because you never know what might change President Trump’s mind.