Harry Reid, a former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, announced last month that he will not seek re-election as the senior senator from his state. Democrat Reid was majority leader of the Senate until this year, when the Republicans won the majority. Still, Reid has used his position as minority leader to keep the Democrats in line and fight off attempts by Republicans to repeal or soften many programs passed during the Obama administration.
For gaming, it’s a huge loss. Reid, 75, has been the industry’s most powerful advocate through the years, particularly for the Nevada branch. He fought the growth of tribal gaming until the major commercial companies got involved. He has battled against proposed legislation that would have harmed the industry. In the late 1990s, when Congress set up the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, designed to skewer the industry, he helped to mollify the impact by getting industry figures like the late Terry Lanni from MGM and UNITE HERE head John Wilhelm confirmed as members.
His relationship with industry leaders has been strong, even though they may have different overall political views. Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, staunch conservatives, call Reid a friend.
American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman recognized Reid’s importance to gaming.
“Senator Reid has been a tireless supporter of gaming who solidified Nevada and the industry’s significance across the country,” he said in a statement. “From his earliest days as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission to his years in the United States Senate, Senator Reid has been a visionary for what could be possible. The people of Nevada have been fortunate to have an unmatched champion in Senator Reid, whose leadership and dedication will be missed.”