New Pro-Online Gambling Coalition C4COP Squares Off Against Adelson Forces
Overnight, Politico.com broke the news of a pro online gambling group, the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection (C4COP), to specifically counteract the Sheldon Adelson-funded Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.
According to the Politico piece, which has since been largely reprinted elsewhere, the new group is funded by major Adelson/LV Sands competitor MGM International, with secondary support from the American Gaming Association. The group is reportedly investing $250,000 in media advertising buys over the next three weeks, concentrated in and around Washington D.C. and the state of Nevada, in an attempt to counteract some of the media spin being put forth by Adelson’s CSIG group as they attempt to reshape the argument over possible federal regulation of online gambling in the United States.
The group claims to have already signed up a number of bipartisan (though largely conservative) political supporters. Among those named in the Politico piece are former US Rep. Mike Oxley (R-OH), the former Financial Services Committee chairman when the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act attachment to the Port Security Act was ramrodded through Congress by Bill Frist; Oxley will be the coalition’s spokesman. Oxley has already been joined by former US Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA), currently at FaegreBD Consulting, and “top Democratic operative” Jim Messina. Messina served as President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of operations from 2009 to 2011.
According to the group’s limited press release, which has yet to be published in its entirety, C4COP is also citing research done in recent weeks by the conservative-leaning North Star Opinion Research, a heavy hitter in market research founded by Whit Ayers back in the 1980s. According to the C4COP presser, a recent North Star study claims that in a survey of 1,000 voters, 33% of respondents strongly oppose a ban on internet gaming, while one third less (22%) strongly support such a ban.
The footprints behind the scene indicate that the battle over online-gambling regulation in the US is indeed fast developing into a turf war between rival US casino factions. On one extreme is the Adelson-led Las Vegas Sands group, buttressed in large part from billions in gambling profits from Macau’s land-based casinos. On the other side are most of the remaining US-based casino/entertainment entities, now united with the organizational support of the AGA, with Steve Wynn and his Wynn Resorts conglomerate somewhere in the middle, looking for the best business opportunity.
MGM spokesman Alan Feldman, speaking to Politico, declined to comment on how deep-pocketed the counteroffensive to Adelson’s attack would be. “I think we have the best resource. We have the facts,” Feldman told Politico. “He’s playing on people’s fears, he’s making all kinds of claims and making all kinds of accusations that simply aren’t true, so we’re going to stick to the facts and hope that the facts might win out.”
Adelson’s group lost no time posting a brief response to C4COP’s launch on its own website. “The proponents of Internet gambling are selling a business model that will lead to spiraling debt and job losses for the middle class to deliver profits to giants like MGM and Caesars,” wrote CSIG. “The dangers of Internet gambling are many and varied. Online gaming sites have no proven protections for minors; they can be manipulated by terrorists and other bad actors to launder money; and they offer 24/7 access to bring a casino into every American’s home.”
CSIG’s pointing of an additional financing finger at Caesars Entertainment came despite Caesars being mentioned nowhere in the C4COP materials provided to Politico. The closest link found by FlushDraw is that Caesars Entertainment is listed among a dozen or so corporate clients of Whit Ayers’ North Star Opinion Research, suggesting a possible role in the funding of the study cited in the C4COP presser.
Expect more information to emerge in this developing story over the coming days.
The newness of the countermove to Adelson’s anti-gambling push can be seen by the fact the C4COP coalition has yet to create an internet presence of its own. (Update: Late on Wednesday, C4COP launched its online home at c4cop.com.) The group’s press release itself was mailed to an unknown (but small) number of media outlets, and has not yet been released publicly in its initial form.
In a secondary report, Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote that American Gaming Association CEO Geoff Freeman asserted that “the new coalition has the backing of commercial casinos, equipment manufacturers, Indian tribes and technology companies.” Also known to be onboard is the Poker Players Alliance, according to the original piece.