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New Sands PAC gathering support for casino gambling in Texas

Las Vegas Sands Corp. has formed a new political action committee to generate support for casino gambling in Texas.

The Texas Sands PAC, initially funded with $2.3 million from Dr. Miriam Adelson, widow of former Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, will contribute to the political campaigns of candidates who support the company’s proposal to allow development of casino resorts in four of the state’s largest cities.

Sands is a worldwide leader in the development of so-called “integrated resorts” that feature hotel rooms, convention facilities, restaurants and entertainment as well as casino gambling.

“The creation of the Texas Sands PAC is part of our long-term commitment to Texas,” said Matt Hirsch, a spokesman for the Texas Sands PAC.

“We appreciate the willingness of these legislators to engage in an open dialogue about the tremendous economic benefits, including the tens of thousands of jobs, these destination resorts will create for Texas,” he said. “We will continue to actively engage local and state leaders over the course of this year and be prepared to come back next session ready to pass legislation that will ultimately allow voters to decide on this issue.”

The PAC, formed in January, already has distributed $563,750 to 35 candidates. The organization’s first report to the Texas Ethics Commission was filed Tuesday.

The committee has supported candidates on both sides of the political aisle, including Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican.

The PAC gave to incumbents and to candidates for open seats. Donations ranged from $3,000 to $25,000 for candidates in House races and between $4,000 and $30,000 for candidates in Senate contests. Abbott, who faces seven Republican challengers in Tuesday’s primary election, received $75,000 for his re-election campaign.

Sands spent an estimated $4.5 million for lobbying efforts in Texas last year, but lawmakers ended their session without moving any proposals forward. At the time, Sands executives said they would keep trying, viewing Texas as a viable domestic market.

Earlier this week, Sands completed the sale of The Venetian, Palazzo and The Venetian Expo to Apollo Global Management Inc. and Vici Properties Inc. for $6.4 billion.

The company has said its exit from the Las Vegas market enables it to focus on resorts in Macao, where it is the market leader, and Singapore, where it holds one of the two licenses issued there. Company officials have said they’re also interested in lucrative domestic markets, with Texas, Florida and New York at the top of their list.

The Review-Journal is owned by the Adelson family, including Dr. Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Las Vegas Sands President and COO Patrick Dumont.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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