GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 19 - February 2012

By J. Todd, Executive Director, APCW F or many, many years, the loudest opponents of regu- lated online gambling were the executives of the major land- based casino companies. These casino companies were ter- rified that online gambling would siphon away funds from their properties. Why would anyone go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City when he or she could simply gamble on their computer at home? Of course, that belief proved to be foolish. People still go to Las Ve- gas and Atlantic City (well, not as much to A.C., but that’s another issue) because they enjoy the ca- sino experience. It’s not strictly about gambling. Slowly but surely, the casino indus- try has come out to support some form of Internet gaming regulation and legalization. The American Gaming Association is a major pro- ponent. So is Caesars Entertain- ment, which now operates online gaming sites in the U.K. MGM Resorts recently reached an agree- ment with Party Poker. Hell, even Steve Wynn had a deal with PokerStars before the De- partment of Justice came along and rained on everyone’s parade. That brings us to this issue’s Hall of Shame inductee, noted curmud- geon Sheldon Adelson. Adelson, 78, is the Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands. According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong), he is the 16th-richest person in the world and has a net worth of over $21.5 billion. He is a true gambling giant and no one denies his impact on the land-based casino industry. His views on the online gambling industry, however, leave MUCH to be desired. He told Washington, D.C. insiders in early December that he opposes any federal leg- islation that would legalize and regulate online poker. His opposi- tion led a Las Vegas Sun reporter to proclaim that federal legislation had no chance of passing as long as Adelson wasn’t on board. What hurts about Adelson’s stance is the fact that he is BFFs with pre- vious Wall of Shame inductee Sen. Jon Kyl (April 2010). Adelson has a prime opportunity to influence Kyl’s views on online poker. But instead of toeing the line with the rest of the land-based casino indus- try, Ol’ Sheldon decides to pull the “what about the children?” card. Of course, underage online gam- bling is a concern. And underage gambling is going on right now. But what’s the best way to combat the problem? It’s definitely not by looking the other way. Let’s face facts. Underage online gambling will never fully go away. There will never be a foolproof sys- tem to stop all of it. It’s really up to the parents to monitor how their children spend time online. What you can do, however, is em ploy the best possible measures to try to prevent it. That is done th rough legalization and regulation. And you know what else w on’t go away? Underage gambli ng in brick-and-mortar casinos. Would Adelson ever shut d own The Venetian or The Palazz o be- cause a couple of 19-yea r-olds were able to sneak onto th e ca- sino floor and play some slo t ma- chines? Of course not. So then why is it acceptab le for him to advocate denying mi llions of Americans the right to pla y on- line poker simply because some teenagers were able to d eposit money on a site? It’s outright hypocrisy. An d it’s even more hypocritical if you believe (like I do) that Ade lson’s stance on Internet gaming has nothing to do with prote cting children. It has everything to do with Las Vegas Sands bein g be- hind their competition. U nlike Caesars and MGM, Sands isn’t cultivating relationships wit h the online gambling communit y and should regulation happen , the company would severely b e be- hind the eight ball. Now, these relationships a ren’t bearing fruit just yet. But they will bear fruit. And assclown s like Adelson will have no one to b lame but themselves. W all of S hame APCW’s Wall of Shame