McCain’s Gambling Past Resurfaces

One of George W. Bush’s attacks on McCain during the 2000 Republican primary was on McCain’s gambling habits. This harmed McCain’s already damaged relations with the evangelical base of the Republican party. These old attacks are resurfacing as of late in a New York Times article.

Jo Becker and Don Van Natta of the New York Times, September 27, 2008:

A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party’s evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain.

The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to Mr. McCain’s campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world’s second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s current campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just Mr. McCain’s affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.

As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America’s casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.

“One of the founding fathers of Indian gaming” is what Steven Light, a University of North Dakota professor and a leading Indian gambling expert, called Mr. McCain.

As factions of the ferociously competitive gambling industry have vied for an edge, they have found it advantageous to cultivate a relationship with Mr. McCain or hire someone who has one, according to an examination based on more than 70 interviews and thousands of pages of documents.

Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

There were only a few comments on this in past months. MSNBC gave a few minutes to McCain’s propensity to play craps, and Obama’s pastime of playing poker at home. All in all, a very innocuous look at McCain, and much less aggressive and accusatory than the New York Times article:

McCain does not need to fear alienating the evangelical conservatives this turn around, so the cost of this exposure is probably limited. This may be a bump in the road, or might require a press release. More should come from this. Should this be an issue? You decide.


    F*** the NY times it has turned more into a smear machine against McCain and Palin than anything else.

  • Dreadsen


    Fact are facts. You don’t have to like it. Liking it is not required.
    Just like Fox has actually created all out lies on Obama yet you still seem to promote them as being fair and balanced lol!
    But when Fox presents a negative fact on him if it’s true then it’s true. Whining about them being slanted still doesn’t defeat the FACT.

  • Babs

    Michael, is this an op ed you’re publishing as news? Funny, I haven’t heard a whisper of this anywhere but here. I don’t read the New York Times, and I don’t seem to be able to find any credible current news about it. I thought you had dubious opinons of op eds.

  • Grey

    Psh… no need to beat a dead horse. We already knew he was an avid gambler from his VP pick.

    J/K- sorta =).

  • With regard to the meaningful issues surrounding this campaign, this issue of McCain’s past gambling associations seem to pale in comparison to Obama’s past associations with numerous crooked individuals such as Rezko and Wright. As in, if it is a tit-for-tat attitude, I don’t think McCain is losing sleep at night.

    While some may oppose any form of gambling in general, it seems to me that the average evangelical voter would be more swayed by topics such as abortion, where Obama lies completely opposed to the traditional evangelical stance of pro-life.

    Grey, you’re right! Palin was a gamble, we’re still waiting to see if she pays off in the end. 🙂

  • Dreadsen


    The point is Obama’s associations became the main event.
    McCain’s shouldn’t be ignored simply because Obama has bad associations. And Palin’s associations with the AIP makes Rev Wright look like a die hard Patriot.

  • D,

    I think the difference you’re missing is that Obama’s association with Wright was over a 20 year period. Furthermore, Wright was the credited inspiration for Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope.”

    Not that it should be ignored, but does Palin have a 20-year track record with the AIP? Did Palin credit the AIP as the inspiration for her autobiography? Did the AIP marry Palin and her husband? No, no, and no.

    I’m not defending and/or excusing Palin, but I’m illustrating why her association, whatever it may be, with the AIP will not be, and has not been, of importance to this campaign because it was so minor. Plus, the head of the AIP has stated she was never a member. Whereas, Obama was a member of Wright’s church for 20 years. Again, not to excuse Palin, or condemn Obama, but I am pointing out the differences in the situation.

    Plus, I am not ignoring or asking anyone to ignore associations any given candidate may have. I believe everyone should have as much information as possible about each and every candidate. I merely sought to state that I don’t believe anything concerning McCain listed in that article will matter, it’s not pertinent enough for voters to weigh a decision with. Obama’s association with Wright clearly affected some voters and caused a hiccup for his campaign, would you disagree with that?

    Furthermore, one can almost go out on a limb and say that if the Rev. Wright controversy happened just before the primary season began, could we quite possibly now be talking about Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee? I have no clue, but it sure caused a major issue at the time especially since Obama took his time to completely disassociate himself and denounce the statements entirely, though he did eventually.

    Again, not defending or excusing anything, I just saw some differences here which are clear in the fact that the press has ignored Palin’s association with the AIP and this story about McCain and ties to casinos. Not because they shouldn’t matter, but because they’re not on the same scale, and clearly Obama supporters agree or we’d hear more about them.

    Do you disagree?

  • Todd

    One more way it will reduce tax rolls as native american casinos are not likely to be paying taxes, they can then buy up land/assets that would’ve otherwise been paying taxes and take them off the tax rolls

  • Dreadsen

    No they are different. We agree on that.

    But the issue should be vetted.
    First Palin says that she did not go to the 1994 convention.
    Then evidence comes out that she went there.
    McCain campaign says that she only went to the 2000 convention because she was the mayor.
    IN 2008 of this year she addressed very warmly.
    Her husband was a part of the party for 7 years. Michele Obama has made some statements which some felt was anti american and it got yelled across the roof tops.
    Looking at what type of group the AIP is there should be a full vetting of what happened from 1994 til her addressing them so kindly in 2008. A lot of questions need to be asked and answered. Don’t you agree?

  • Never said any issue shouldn’t be vetted, the press has a job to vet every issue and candidate accordingly.

    I was simply arguing that, from a political perspective, the issues with Palin and/or McCain’s associations seem to hold no water.

    I’m not saying no questions exist, I’m saying that voters don’t care in the same fashion they cared about Rev. Wright

  • By the way, Dreadsen, comment editing is now available for all new comments. For 5 minutes after you comment, you can now edit and/or correct any errors. This is for registered and non-registered users.

    Let me know if you find any bugs, email in case I don’t see your comment about a bug.

    You demanded it, I delivered. I should run for office.


    ** Nuked **

    Watch your language please, thanks!

  • Christopher Schwinger

    Thanks for adding the editing option, Nate!

    I truly don’t think this gambling issue will be very prevalent in the discussion, but I think it should be. So should McCain’s other scandals, like his affairs. It is mind-boggling to me how people can say “That’s your personal life; it’s none of my business, even if you are a public servant.”

    Have any of you read about Palin’s history of personal vendettas as governor? If half of Americans really knew the kind of stuff Kissinger does, they’d think twice about voting Palin; he endorsed her and met privately with her.

  • Michael

    Babs, I was not endorsing the story– but regardless, it is not an Op/Ed article. It is under the POLITICS section of the NYTimes.

  • Michael, are you scraping the bottom of the buck on this? Are you just looking for scraps on McCain? I love gossip and that seems like exactly what this is, gossip!

  • I should have known the story would have come from the NYtimes, they’re the leaders in political gossip!


    Yeah nuke my post Michael. This was the main article front page of the times. It just proves there complete biased and leftwing agenda.

    Christopher, If you want and believe this to be a prevalent issue then go right ahead. If this is seen as bad, than Obama’s connections to Wright, Ayers, Rezko, Pfleger, and Sal Alinsky will be major issues to than. Such a hypocrite.

  • OS,

    That was me, simply for your profanity. Argue politics but I don’t care for swearing as not everyone appreciates reading it. Plus, it diminishes the argument and lowers the quality of the discussion.

    So repost what you said and lose the swearing and it will stand.

    Sorry for the inconvenience but I’ve been policing all weekend on profanity with the outrageous influx of new commenters. I try to apply this across the board.


    My bad Nate, I guess I did not notice the swear because i was quite heated at the time about this dumb article the Times put out.

  • CG — i was actually trying to scrape the bottom for recent news articles on Obama. wrote about Biden not getting the time of day right now, and all the news articles on Obama are about the debate.

  • Christopher Schwinger


  • susan

    Get it right this time America,Vote Wise Vote Obama.If that Barbie Doll transpirers into reality,People will be jumping out of windows!I am curious about one thing,If one of her daughters was raped by a black man,would she go through with the pregnancy?

  • PeoplePower

    Frankly, I don’t care if McCain likes to play craps. So long as it’s above-the-board and with his own money.

    Unfortunately, McCain takes a fair number of gambles in his policy decisions. I hope, if he wins, that he doesn’t gamble too much on something that could be rather ruinous.

    I’m really tired of hearing the Rev. Wright thing. Wright says a few things that are pretty far out there, and that’s *all* the press covers (including the supposedly-liberal-media).

    I’m not excusing his radical statements, but lost in the madness were some pretty solid viewpoints on the issues facing our nation and world. Of course, sadly, I can’t remember them well enough to quote them here, but I remember feeling that way when the issue was more up front.

    The rest of this is garbage (my remarks) as a test of the new editing feature. Thanks for adding this Nate! – Cool. The edit worked.

    Nate – what options are supposed to be available with the “More Options” feature?

  • JD

    PowerPeople – “I’m really tired of hearing the Rev. Wright thing. Wright says a few things that are pretty far out there, and that’s *all* the press covers (including the supposedly-liberal-media).”

    I am with you on this PowerPeople. Not that you are looking for people to be in your corner. Though I do not agree with what the Rev. Wright said or how he handled himself during this whole thing… it is important to understand that Rev. Wright is the recipient of numerous awards, including three honorary doctorates and three presidential commendations.

    I am not saying that you all should love him for this and as I said I don’t agree with how he was conducting himself as of recent months but his awards and commendations do point to a man who has done more good than bad.

    Wright was assigned as part of the medical team charged with care of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

    However, I do have to agree with Nate. The Gambling issue has much less impact than what went down with Wright during Obama’s bid for president. To be honest, I am shocked the Rev. has not come up more.

    None the less, McCain is definitely a gambler. As seen from this VP pick to the recent suspension of his campaign. Some have paid off while other gambles have not.

    Personally, I don’t want a president who gambles when they are commander and chief nor do I want one who is “Wired” to “not blink”. Give me a president who is calculated and weighs the risks to rewards. These are known as leaders.

  • Babs

    Michael, this bit of news is eight years old. Whether it was billed as an op ed or not, it’s just a walk down memory lane looking for spin against McCain to take up space. Your standards are usually above that.

    You might as well post a news item that Rev. Wright has accused the US of giving aids to blacks on purpose. That news is newer.

  • Matey


    Seems that you are all being very nice and polite, and not wanting to offend each other…not me.

    JD links McCain’s behavior on the crap tables to the way he would handle his decision making in office – ah, you idiot.

    Susan, you are the epitome of what people fear about liberals you moron.

    Christopher, you know nothing about Palin other than the garbage printed in low-life publications such as the NYT, or because you probably cannot read, you heard the stuff on CBS or MSNBC, fool.

    People WAKE UP and smell the liberal decay! Obama has as much experience as Palin’s husband! Palin out-guns B.O on experience every time. His eloquence can only take him to far. When he’s in the WH (yes I think he’ll win in a landslide even though I’m voting McCain), you remember this blog.

    He will end up raising prices by virtue of increased costs to business. We will see a steady stream of job losses as businesses who want to and need to make money shed staff as their costs soar. Universal health care will not happen because it is not affordable. He will have no clue how to lead in Iraq or Afghanistan and will rely solely on the top brass to guide him. If he does make a stand-alone decision, it will cost the country dearly – make these words. University fees will increase – mark these words.

    Where do I get my predictions? Take a look at every major socialist country (which he will want to emulate) and take a good look at how they are doing. Study Germany, France, England, and see how their prices stack up against those in the USA. See how their health system stacks up against ours. See how their unemployment rates and interest rates and fiscal numbers stack up. They don’t.

    Warning Will Robinson! We’re in for a very rough ride for the next four years before the Dems play the blame game again…can you hear it? “We’re suffering a legacy of the Bush years”…… change, no action, rising prices, rising unemployment….mark these words!

    Hey all you Dems, have you checked the approval rating on the Dem led Congress? Why isn’t this an issue? Why haven’t the media focussed on the Dem performance in the senate as an indicator of BO’s guiding brotherhood? BECAUSE THEY’RE LIBERALS!

  • JD

    Matey – “Seems that you are all being very nice and polite, and not wanting to offend each other…not me.”

    I’m your huckleberry.

    Matey – “JD links McCain’s behavior on the crap tables to the way he would handle his decision making in office…”

    Well I am just calling it as I see it. I am not even making this accusation because of the New York Times or any other news network. His VP pick was a gamble as was the suspension of his campaign and the remark to move the debates.

    Still, he realized the bet to not attend the Debate was a dumb one but it was probably one of his advisors that convinced him of that.

    Matey – “He will end up raising prices by virtue of increased costs to business. We will see a steady stream of job losses as businesses who want to and need to make money shed staff as their costs soar.”

    Explain specifics. What Taxes and how are you seeing it effect the market? Don’t be a republican douche and just throw blanket statements without committing to any hard facts or have you been getting all your information from FOX news.

    Matey – “Universal health care will not happen because it is not affordable.”

    Again you show that you have a mouth but it is really just you talking out of your chocolate star fish.

    In Short…

    Obama’s health care… which is not Government-run health care as Hillary wanted to do.

    There are two extremes – government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules.

    Under Obama’s plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes and you keep it.

    If you don’t like your health insurance, or you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options.

    There will be a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.

    So really he is using the power of free market here. If you like your insurance… than keep it. He is not mandating that you have to have any particular insurance or that you are forced to get any insurance. In Fact you could refuse all insurance.

    Matey – do your homework.

    I’ll give you a little time for you to do some research and get back to me on how McCain is going to handle the Healthcare problem we have in the US or if you aren’t calling it a problem, then how he wants to reform it…

    Matey – “take a good look at how they are doing. Study Germany, France, England, and…See how their health system stacks up against ours”

    The US healthcare system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.

    Wake up Matey… By the look of the flag by your post, it suggests you are from or talking from the UK and I bet you are loving all the privileges they offer you and the job they are giving you, if you are working.

    Matey – “See how their unemployment rates”

    US unemployment = 6.6%
    UK unemployment =5.5%


    Matey, you are just like all the other republican Sheeple (notice I don’t lump you will all republicans because there are some who can make a point). You are all bark. You assume that by being the loudest person in the room that you are the smartest when in fact you are talking to just cover up your incompetence on the issues.

    You feel one way and so it goes to reason that your feelings must be right with little or no investigation to see if you are stereotyping, making blanket statements, or just flat out wrong.

    You are pronoid(Slang) – It means that contrary to all the available evidence, you actually think that people like you. Your perception of life is that it’s one long benefit dinner in *your* honor with everybody cheering *you* on and wanting *you* to win everything. You think you’re the prince.

  • Alexa

    Matey, are you joking?

    Please, let us evaluate your previous statement.

    “People WAKE UP and smell the liberal decay! Obama has as much experience as Palin’s husband! Palin out-guns B.O on experience every time.”

    Once again another McCain voter is wrong!

    During its eight years under the Bush Administration, foreign policy has failed! Remember McCain was a STRONG supporter of Bush! Voting for McBush is just another four years of foreign policy failure.

    This is a man who up until a few days ago said the economy was sound!

    It is true that Obama doesn’t have the amount of experience people would like him to have the subject, foreign policy, but look at the people he surrounds himself with! Democrat Vice Presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has over 20 years of experience. “Biden has a long history in Washington politics, with more than three decades in the Senate. He was elected in 1972 at the age of twenty-nine, is the fourth-longest-serving Democratic senator in Congress.

    For decades, he’s brought change to Washington, but Washington hasn’t changed him. He’s an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are firmly routed in the middle class.”

    McCain’s choice, Governor Sarah Palin, who’s been in office for only 2 years.

    Now let’s evaluate the two, shall we?
    Obama/Biden, Biden having years of experience and an expert on foreign policy..

    OR Palin, only one heartbeat away from becoming the next Commander in chief without any experience at all.

    After all, McCain is old!!


  • Babs

    JD, this was mostly a personal attack here, so I stopped reading. If it was your famous sarcasm, it fell flat.

  • JD


    I started out my reply indicating that I was going to play Matey’s game.

    I am glad you didn’t read the whole thing. It got messy there for a bit and to be honest, I would rather keep you innocent. Still, someone has to take out the trash or it will just pile up around here. 🙂

  • Matey, THANK YOU!!! Conservatives all over are standing to applaud you. I found your words refreshing.

  • Kinda funny how an article about McCain is classed as scraping the bottom of the barrel. Yet when an article about Obama or his wife surfaces then it’s fair game.

    I think the article is interesting but it doesn’t have any real relevance to this campaign, not unless McCain is still gambling that is.

  • JD

    Conservative Gal – “Matey, THANK YOU!!! Conservatives all over are standing to applaud you. I found your words refreshing.”

    About as refreshing as the stagnant water found in a toilet bowl. 🙂

    I am glad that you Repubs (after 8 years!!!) have at least realized and admitted the Bush error. Even though you voted twice for the glitch we have in the office. Life is about it’s small victories after catastrophic mistakes.

    Now…if only we could get you to see problems before they wreck our foriegn relations and local economy. 🙁

    I know, I know, McCain is not Bush. He is different…He has POW experience.

  • Christopher Schwinger

    Matey, I do not read the NY Times or watch MSNBC. I am neither for McCain or for Obama.

  • PeoplePower

    Matey sed: “Seems that you are all being very nice and polite, and not wanting to offend each other…not me.”

    Clearly. Do you think bashing anyone who disagrees with you and calling them moron/idiot/whatever makes your case?

    I have seen thoughtful conservatives make very solid points and, oftentimes, have actual *facts* to back them up. I will gladly read that, even if I don’t agree with all of their points, at least they’re saying something meaningful.

    Yet another filth-laden diatribe (let me say that more simply for you – streaming piles of horse manure) from a blind partisan really makes no point at all. It just serves to demonstrate your lack of understanding and any sort of skill at arguing.

    Make some real points, backed up by *factual* evidence, and perhaps people other than blind partisans will listen to you.

  • America’s problem is that politicians must be either Republican or Democrat. There seems to be nothing in between which is not only wholly unnatural but nonsensical. We suspect that McCain is actually a bit more Democratic than he makes himself out to be. The mere fact that a Republican partisan calls anyone writing negative articles about McCain as being democratic ‘partisan’ is in itself so laughable it hurts – one has to assume that to be partisan is to be narrow minded – and that rule applies both ways. There cannot be any true reporter or critic that is partisan to either Democrats or Republicans that is worth any salt. One has to see both the positives and negatives and what the party can do for the people – that is all that counts.

    So those confused, should weigh how much they think a party will do for them and vote based on this analysis alone rather than trying to defend a partisan position just because its a Republican or Democrat who holds that position. That’s why I dream of parties making their arguments on paper without anyone knowing which party is offering which positions and vote for that party one thinks will do their best – the party that seems to have the better plan for the citizens should win. When the voting is over, there would be many surprises which party the citizens actually chose for their leaders. Where gambling is concerned, it is definitely the Republicans who work for self-profit and profits of the upper class and not for everyone.

    Read the rest of my comments here: