Will Trump return to Las Vegas or even the casino business? Don’t bet on it By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports January 20, 2021 at 8:30 pm After four tumultuous years, Donald Trump is no longer President of the United States. Impeached twice and the provoker of a failed insurrection, the man who set out to shake up Washington D.C. certainly accomplished the task. It’s not easy to have 400,000 Americans die of a containable coronavirus pandemic and walk away without a simple acknowledgment of the great loss, but Trump managed to do that and more. The focus now shifts to Trump’s post-presidential life. Although from what I’ve seen Mar-a-Lago is lovely. After he finishes licking his wounds Trump undoubtedly will get bored and will be tempted to launch into a new venture. He’s nothing if not indefatigable. Phil Ruffin, Steve Wynn, and Donald Trump in a 2005 photo. What will he do for an encore? With his background as a multi-bankrupted Atlantic City casino titan and partner with Nevada gaming licensee Phil Ruffin in the Trump International in Las Vegas, I suppose it’s always possible that the former Commander-in-Chief will look at his options and consider returning to the gambling industry. After all, some of its biggest players helped put him in office. Arguably gaming’s biggest influencer, the late Sheldon Adelson, invested heavily in Trump’s presidential candidacy and unsuccessful re-election bid. Certainly, no president has ever enjoyed as many gaming industry allies as Trump. Kennedy had some. Nixon’s roots were deeper. Ronald Reagan went from taking the stage at The Last Frontier to playing to an entire nation. But all the rest combined couldn’t match the largesse heaped upon Trump by Adelson, Steve Wynn, the Fertitta family, Ruffin, and many others. But that undeniable embrace of Trump begs a question: Will he find a place in the casino industry in his life after the presidency? Will there be any appetite for a series of command performances, personal engagements, speaking engagements, or appearances as major conventions and trade shows for Trump? Are we destined to see Trump’s name on marquees in letters the size that once spelled “Elvis” and “Sinatra?” Donald Trump and Phil Ruffin during the 2016 presidential campaign Don’t say it’s not possible. Not only has he enjoyed high-rolling political benefactors, but he also generated more than 70 million votes in the 2020 election. He has enjoyed the kind of brand loyalty usually reserved for iconic detergents and automobiles. Setting aside the questionable judgment of embracing the person most responsible for downplaying the deadly potential of a virus that has led to the deaths of more than 400,000 Americans and in the process has turned the Strip into a veritable ghost town, I suppose any of the above is possible. The trouble with the Trump brand, some critics contend, is that it’s rapidly changing in the wake of his defeat, the deadly failed insurrection, a pair of impeachments, his classless departure from the White House, and President Joe Biden’s undeniably unifying inaugural address. I think we can expect that brand to take a further beating despite the best efforts to prop it up by his allies and acolytes. As Los Angeles Times reporter Hugo Martins recently observed, Trump’s incendiary presidency cost the Trump brand from the start of his presidency. When he called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” his followers ate it up, but Macy’s department stores stopped selling his clothing line. His comments about Muslims fed the frothing fans at home but caused a company in Dubai to discontinue its “Trump” line of furniture throughout much of its global reach. When the PGA cancels its tournament at your golf course, you’re definitely losing your touch. It will get worse in the months to come as more of Trump’s double-dealing is exposed and explored. It won’t help his brand to be dragged through a Senate impeachment trial that might result in a different outcome the second time. In a moment of priceless understatement, Atlas Hospitality Group President Alan X. Reay told reporter Martins, that the Jan. 6 riot that Trump inspired “is a huge tarnishing of the brand, and I don’t see how it recovers.” Another marketing executive called Trump’s self-inflicted predicament a “dumpster fire he created” and “one of the single worst moves for his brand ever.” Trump’s brand is so damaged even the right-wing Proud Boys hooligans have abandoned him. That’s low. A long slate of major corporations that gave generously to Trump announced they won’t contribute to Republican politicians who continue to refuse to accept his legitimate loss. When Hallmark can’t find anything nice to say about you, pal, you’re in bad shape. In the coming months and years being associated with Trump and his brand of virulent nativism will stain the records of those who were so quick to embrace him. How many will step forward to express their continued support now that he is out of the White House? I’m guessing that Las Vegas marquee shouting, “Trump, Tonight!” will stay dark a long, long time. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.