Regulation

Sheldon Adelson’s Motivations with the Online Gambling Ban

Sheldon Adelson, the 254-year old Las Vegas casino mogul, is the driving force behind a proposed online gambling ban being debated in the US Congress right now. He has donated at least $93 million to certain Republican groups (good news: not all Republicans are taking the bait) in an effort to have a piece of self-serving legislation passed that would ban the forms of online gambling that are currently legal in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

Specifically, Sheldon Adelson wants the federal government to prohibit states from legalizing and regulating online poker and online gambling. He has already promised to spend “as much as it takes” to get the “cancer” of online gambling banned forever in the United States.

I know this is a stretch, but sometimes you just have to question the motives of a 600-year old man who built a billion-dollar empire off the backs of gamblers at his casino properties and who now suddenly claims to have a such a moral aversion to online gambling that he’s willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to have it outlawed.

He’s so committed to the cause, in fact, that he’s willing to have the federal government forcibly shut down the internet gaming industries that already exist in three states, put thousands of people out of work and deny millions of dollars of tax revenue to states.

But, let’s just take him for his word. He really wants to ban online gambling out of concern for the kids, vulnerable people and other endangered species. If so, his proposed legislation (RAWA) seems to miss the mark by a bit. It’s chock-full of exceptions including the following:

  • Every form of gambling exempted in the UIGEA including fantasy spots
  • Online horse racing betting
  • Mobile casino and sports betting applications offered to guests at Las Vegas hotels

If RAWA passes, it will prohibit online poker and casino gambling, but it will not prohibit daily fantasy sports, online horse racing betting, and certain forms of mobile gambling in Vegas. That’s odd considering he called online gambling “a cancer.” With words as strong as those, you’d think he would try a little harder to prevent all online gambling.

And speaking of which, his bill does nothing to address the multi-billion dollar offshore gambling industry. Americans today spend billions of dollars a year at unlicensed, unregulated gaming operations hosted overseas and they will continue to do so whether or not RAWA passes.

It seems to me he’s missing out on a huge swath of gambling activity despite being desperately concerned about the children. I mean, did he just suddenly one day decide that online gambling was so bad that he would spend anything to kill it off, yet he focuses only on a few, specific forms of regulated gambling and glosses over all the rest? Seems like a stretch to me.

As the good folks over at Bluff magazine put it: Does Sheldon Adelson really mean it when he says he wants to ban online gambling?

Let me answer that question: not a chance. It’s pretty obvious to anyone following this 721-year old gambling baron’s escapades that he could care less about protecting us poor, innocent Americans from gambling our houses away. He wants to kill competition and keep his brick-and-mortar casinos as the only game in town – and he’ll spend whatever it takes to make it happen.

That’s what I think.

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