Keeping Pounding That Drum, Sheldon Adelson

We’ve been here before. Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and one of the richest men in the world, has made billions off of gambling. Yet despite the decades of enjoyment he has gotten providing gambling services to willing adults (and non-adults!), he has decided that it is time to draw that line at online poker. Slots, video poker, roulette, craps…all those are perfectly fine, but online poker, THAT is a blight on society. And now, he has not only reaffirmed said stance, but he has added daily fantasy sports (DFS) to the mix.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that Sheldon Adelson is stupid, as a) someone who has had as much success as he has can’t be a total dolt, and b) I don’t believe for a second that he actually thinks online poker or DFS are any worse for society than any other form of gambling. As has been well documented on this site and others, he clearly wants online poker abolished because he sees it as a threat to his brick-and-mortar gaming business. In that respect, actually, he IS kind of bone-headed, since as far as I know, it has never been shown that online poker takes customers away from land-based casinos. In fact, most casino operators have embraced the online game as a complementary product offering, a way to not only make money from those who don’t or can’t visit a casino, but also a way to get people used to and interested in poker so that they might want to visit the casino someday (this was the case for yours truly).

In a recent interview with Yahoo! Finance, Adelson went on the attack against daily fantasy, using the same “Won’t anyone think of the children?” excuse he has peddled about poker when lying to the public about why DFS is bad for us.

Not a Terrible Start

The interview started innocently enough, framed by his efforts to get the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas via his plans to partially fund a $1.9 billion football stadium. Yahoo! asked him if he has talked with other owners about the potential relocation of the Raiders and if he thinks they will have a problem with him being involved with the team because he is a gambling mogul.

“I’ve met with [Dallas Cowboys owner] Jerry Jones and I’ve talked to [New England Patriots Owner] Bobby [Kraft]. Bob is the chairman of the committee for relocation in the NFL. He’s in favor of it,” said Adelson. “It’s an old wives’ tale that they [the NFL’s owners] say gambling is no good. I’ve read that 28 of the 32 teams have interest in fantasy sports. Well, that’s gambling. So 28 teams are involved in gambling.”

I’m with him on this one. The NFL has always tried to publicly distance itself from gambling when it knows that sports betting and fantasy sports fuel a massive portion of fan interest. When almost every team has a marketing deal or equity stake in a DFS site, the anti-gambling façade is an obvious farce.

Yahoo! continued, saying, “Well, that’s the whole argument going on right now: whether daily fantasy sports is gambling. And state by state gambling law has become a hotly contested issue because of these companies.”

Adelson responded, “Listen, I’m in the business. I’m the largest company in the gaming business by market cap [That is correct—$44 billion at the moment] and I can tell you this: Daily fantasy sports is gambling. There’s no question about it. Anybody can play this, and they can gamble on it.”

Ok, I’m still with you. I agree that daily fantasy sports is gambling. At least, that’s what I assume when I feel the need to play the dual-Monday Night Football slate last night and actually rely on more than one member of the Los Angeles Rams to make me money.

“Some say poker is not gambling. Poker is gambling,” Adelson continued.


Dammit, I Knew It

“They say poker is a game of skill. I don’t know how skill can apply to somebody shuffling a deck of cards and randomly giving them out to you. You don’t have any control over it. Can somebody bluff and can somebody place bets better than somebody else? Yes. But that doesn’t make poker a game of skill.”

Annnnd…we’re done. I’m not going to get into all the reasons he is wrong here. I have done it before and since you, the reader, are currently on a poker news site, I would assume that you also have a solid understanding why poker is a game of skill. Poker is gambling. Poker is a game of skill. These two things need not be mutually exclusive.

What he also fails to realize is that HE MADE THE SKILL ARGUMENT RIGHT THERE! He said that some people can bet and bluff better than others. YES! THAT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE! HENCE, THOSE PEOPLE ARE MORE SKILLED AT PLAYING POKER THAN OTHER PEOPLE ARE!

What a maroon. He can’t even get his bullshit straight.

Yeah, Okay Buddy

When specifically asked why he is against DFS, Adelson went on his usual anti-poker rant:

I think it exploits poor people. I was one myself. And I don’t want people that are exploitable to be exploited. I can make money in an honest way—as a form of entertainment. If people want to come and be entertained I’m very happy to provide that service. But why do I need it, the fantasy sports? We’re making money [without it]. I don’t need it. And I think it’s immoral.

Sheldon Adelson's Venetian: a shrine to enlightenment and morality

Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian: a shrine to enlightenment and morality

First, and I don’t have any statistics to back this up, I would guess that DFS, like poker, is way down on the list of gambling pastimes that exploit poor people. All gambling exploits people to some extent – that’s why Las Vegas casinos are so opulent – but typically, the ones that “exploit poor people” the most are the ones that require the least amount of skill. Do we think the blue-hairs plugging their social security checks quarter-by-quarter into the slots at the Venetian are wealthy?

“Anyone can get addicted to it,” Adelson said. Yes. That is completely true. Addiction is a serious problem, of course, and I believe that all casinos, online or not, should provide resources for people who may have issues. But the hypocrisy here is obvious. Sheldon Adelson thinks that because he has built glitzy properties that his version of gambling is the beacon of morality, but if the games can be accessed by an internet doohickie, then they are made of Satan’s farts.

Shit, there I go. I just fell into the trap of arguing from the perspective that Adelson actually believes the words which he his vomiting. He doesn’t. He thinks that somehow online gambling will hurt his business, so he needs to continue to promote this false narrative of it bringing us one step closer to Skynet becoming self-aware. And even if online gambling DID hurt brick-and-mortar casinos, to lie about it the way he does makes him, well…a filthy liar.


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