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Perelman backs Graham's presidential bid despite proposed online gambling ban

8 Jun 2015

By Howard Stutz
Billionaire Ronald Perelman, who is the chairman and largest stockholder of lottery and slot machine giant Scientific Games Corp., plans to support the presidential bid of South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, despite the Republican candidate’s backing of legislation that would ban Internet gambling.

Scientific Games, which is headquartered in Las Vegas, has a large interactive gaming division that operates online lotteries in the U.S. The company provides products to 39 of the 44 U.S. state-run lotteries and to 50 lottery countries.

Last year, Graham and a Utah congressman to introduced legislation to ban online wagering in the U.S. The move is backed by Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, but was opposed by other casino companies and state lotteries.

The bill was re-introduced this year and had a hearing in March before a House Judiciary crime subcommittee. Graham is expected to introduce a similar bill in the Senate this year.

Perelman is listed on Graham’s national finance committee, the New York Times has reported.

Perelman, 72, owns 35 percent of Scientific Games through his wholly-owned New York-based MacAndrews & Forbes Inc. In addition to Scientific Games, his company owns large stakes in cosmetics producer Revlon, medical product developer SIGA Technologies and several financial holding companies.

Forbes Magazine estimates Perelman’s net worth at $14.7 billion and he was 32nd on the Forbes 400 last year.

An associate of the billionaire said Graham’s campaign focus on national security and protection of Israel lead Perelman to back the Republican senator.

“His support is driven by a desire to ensure a robust discussion on critical foreign policy issues, especially the pending accord with Iran and U.S. support for Israel,” the associate said.

Scientific Games was primarily a lottery company before two major slot machine-industry purchases: the acquisition of WMS Industries for $1.5 billion in 2013, and last year’s $5.1 billion buyout of Bally Technologies.

Perelman also engineered the hiring of Scientific Games CEO Gavin Isaacs.

“Lindsey Graham understands America’s leadership role in promoting an enduring peace on the global landscape,” Perelman said in a statement released by Graham’s campaign. “With conflicts raging in the Middle East and around the world that threaten the security of America and our allies, we need leaders with strategic purpose and moral clarity to confront these crises.”

The Times said Perelman has donated to Graham in the past and he’s been courted by other Republicans.

Adelson, who is considered the largest financial donor to GOP candidates and causes, has yet to back any of the announced GOP presidential hopefuls.

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