AT FIRST GLANCE, online gambling seems a no-brainer for the gaming industry. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson disagrees. The Washington Post reports that Adelson, one of the world’s richest men, is launching a public campaign against it, even as the wind appears to be blowing in the other direction. Three states—Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey—have already legalized it, and the Post expects that a dozen more will soon follow. Further, The Hill notes that the American Gaming Association has thrown its full support behind it.
If federally legalized, online gambling is projected to generate more than 50 billion dollars in revenue, why, then, is Adelson so adamantly against what would appear to be a lucrative business for the gaming industry? The reason, it seems, is at least partly ideological. Per Forbes, he is pushing the idea that Internet gambling is a danger to both children and gambling addicts, and according to The Post, he is passionate about the issue.
Is he likely to succeed, despite staunch opposition from the AGA? It’s probably too early to tell, but Adelson’s influence isn’t being taken lightly. The Hill reports that gaming industry leaders convened in Washington this past Tuesday to establish a strategy to counter his crusade. The industry’s concern isn’t without reason: Adelson donated a record-breaking $100 million to GOP candidates in the 2012 election cycle, and the Washington Post reports that he has hired Patton Boggs and Husch Blackwell to lobby in favor of an online gambling ban. He has also upped the ante by hiring several prominent former politicians to co-chair his anti-Internet gambling coalition, including former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb (D), former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), and former New York governor George Pataki (R).
Although it’s anyone’s guess whether Adelson’s all-in effort will succeed, his wealth and determination against a united AGA means that the lobbying fight over online gambling has more than just a few more rounds of bets.