Campaign Finance:

Contributions From Gambling Interests Have Increased

GGD-99-127: Published: Jul 27, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 27, 1999.

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Bernard L. Ungar
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined for the 1992, 1994, 1996, and 1998 elections the total amount of contributions from gambling interests to: (1) federal candidates, including the total number of federal candidates that accepted those contributions; and (2) national political party committees, as well as separate totals for the Republican National Committee (RNC), the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

GAO noted that: (1) data obtained on contributions from the gambling industry to candidates or parties are likely to be conservative, primarily because: (a) specific sources of contributions from individuals that total less than $200 in a year are not identified; (b) contributions from some corporations and organizations that may be associated with the gambling industry may not be included in the Center for Responsive Politics' (CRP) analysis if the primary source of their revenue is related to another industry; and (c) the industry or interest associated with some contributions could not be identified; (2) according to CRP's analysis, total contributions from gambling interests to federal candidates and national party committees rose from $1.1 million in 1992, a presidential election year, to $5.7 million in 1998, a midterm election year; (3) during the same period, overall election campaign receipts in hard money to congressional candidates and in soft money to national party committees increased from $617 million to $851 million, according to the Federal Election Commission data; (4) in a CRP analysis of 1998 election contributions by 92 industry and interest groups, the contributions ranged from $56,000 to $59 million, and the gambling industry was the 37th highest contributor; (5) according to CRP's analysis of campaign contributions, hard money contributions from political action committees (PAC) and individuals to federal candidates from gambling interests rose from $735,000 in the 1992 election to $1.9 million in the 1998 election; (6) contributions from PACs to federal candidates increased by about 320 percent, while contributions from individuals increased by about 80 percent from 1992 to 1998; (7) during the same period, the total number of federal candidates receiving contributions from PACs and individuals representing gambling interests rose from 146 to 269; (8) soft money contributions from gambling interests to national political party committees increased about 840 percent in the same period, from $406,000 in the 1992 election to about $3.8 million in the 1998 election; (9) combined contributions to the RNC and NRCC from gambling interests totalled $177,000 in the 1992 election and about $1.4 million in the 1998 election; (10) combined DNC and DCCC contributions from gambling interests totalled $290,000 in the 1992 election and $850,000 in the 1998 election; and (11) based on CRP's analysis, soft money accounted for a major portion of the total contributions from gambling interests to both parties' national and congressional campaign committees.

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