Sheldon Adelson Pisses off the Online Gambling World… Again
Last time we checked in on Sheldon Adelson, the Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, which operates numerous high-end casino properties including the Venetian, he was was busy dropping $100 million into the political coffers of far-right Congressional and Presidential candidates who promised to his bidding, including taking strident stands against online gambling. Adelson and the topic of online gambling are back in the news again, courtesy of an incredibly self-indulgent op-ed penned by Adelson and published by Forbes.
Titled “Sheldon Adelson: Online Gambling Is Fool’s Gold,” the piece reiterates Adelson’s oft-stated (and oft-outdated) protestations against online gambling, which is everyone not in his employ open mocks for its irony, Adelson being the billionaire boss of a whole string of businesses who offer… ummm… gambling.
This one starts off in the lamest of lame ways, with Adelson writing, “‘Click your mouse and lose your house’ isn’t a marketing slogan for advocates of legalized online gambling. But it should be.”
And on from there. Adelson quickly refers to online gambling as “fool’s gold” and “a societal train wreck waiting to happen,” while attempting to dissuade his readers that it’s about anything other than his own bottom line.
Adelson continues by asserting that regulating online gambling could cost America anywhere between 200,000 and 400,000 jobs — wat??? — and even attempts to imply that the form of gambling he sells is morally superior. This passage in particular merits catcalls:
Online gambling makes it possible for bets to be placed by anyone at any time. When gambling is available in every bedroom, every dorm room and every office space, there will be no way to fully determine that each wager has been placed in a rational and consensual manner.
For example, the possibility of underage children finding ways to place online wagers and the possibility of people betting under the influence of drugs or being coerced are all scenarios that can happen when the person is only monitored by their own computer screen.
On the other hand, when a person makes an effort to get dressed, join some friends and head to the local casino for a night of entertainment they must show themselves as adults, and their behavior can be observed and ultimately managed by security and other staff if needed.
That’s horrendous, an example of a rich, craven man doing everything he can to justify his rich, craven lifestyle. Adelson’s no stranger to the seedier side of the gambling industry, remaining in hot water over his and LV Sands’ use of blatant bribery to open a mega-casino in Macau, which is now the most lucrative Sands property. According to Adelson’s own Wiki page, “In February, 2013, the Las Vegas Sands, in a regulatory filing, acknowledged that it had likely violated federal law prohibiting foreign officials [from being bribed by US interests]. Allegedly, Chinese officials were bribed to allow Adelson to build his Macau casino.”
The derision launched back at Adelson has been immediate, from a couple of astute poker veterans correctly noting that the “Click a mouse, lose a house” saying was originally an argument against online stock trading, an activity that Adelson presumably favors. Only when the saying was usurped by groups such as Focus on the Family did the house-mouse rhyme become connected in any way with gambling.
Perhaps the funniest and best rejoinder to date was a response op-ed by Howard Stutz for the Las Vegas Review-Journal titled, “Adelson to online gaming: Get off my lawn”. Stutz correctly cited a 2001 interview with Adelson that exposes Adelson’s own duplicit behavior. Back then, Adelson said that “Our hat will be in the ring,” referring to online gambling, but then focused instead on his major Asian casino projects.
As Stutz correctly noted, “Internet gaming is just not on the company’s agenda. Adelson’s opinion on the subject, however, has changed. He also doesn’t want anyone else to be able to offer the activity.”
As expected, Adelson’s latest spew has renewed calls among poker players to boycott the Venetian and other Las Vegas Sands properties, which also include the Palazzo and the Sands Casino Resort in Pennsylvania. Can poker players themselves find the backbone to not give business to a greedy, self-important old man? That remains to be seen. There is hope, however: No less a prominent poker figure than Nolan Dalla, in praising the Stutz rebuttal, described Adelson as “the most horrible man in the world.” He’s maybe not that, but he is somewhere on the scale.