Debunking Sheldon Adelson and the Las Vegas Sands Anti Online Gambling Campaign
Las Vegas Sands Corporation CEO Sheldon Adelson is back in the news this week with another attack against online gambling and online poker, paying for the placement of an advertorial, penned by Adelson himself, in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Adelson and LVSands operate the Venetian in Las Vegas, among several prominent casino properties worldwide, with billionaire Adelson mounting what appears to be a well-funded and often personal attack against the advent of online gambling in the States and anywhere else online gambling appears to be a threat against his established land-based casino presences. That includes the founding and funding of StopInternetGambling.com, an Adelson venture intended to demonize online gambling in any way possible.
That demonization and pummeling of straw men continues in Adelson’s most recent LVRJ piece, which was positioned as a response to a recent LVJR gaming column by Howard Stutz, which detailed some of the blatant hypocrisy in Adelson’s anti-online gambling efforts. That hypocrisy hasn’t dissipated in Adelson’s latest, which also includes some outright lies served up to bolster Adelson’s an LVSands’ financial interests.
It’s worth examining a few excerpts from Adelson’s latest to show exactly how evil and self-serving Adelson is in this effort. From the LVRJ piece:
The truth is I am not alone in my opposition to Internet gambling. While a majority of Americans are in favor of “live” casino gaming, recent surveys show that more than 70 percent disapprove of Internet gambling.
The real truth is that this paragraph contains multiple lies. Sheldon commissioned a conservative research organization, the Tarrance Group, to conduct research on the subject of online gambling, and the possibility that the survey was designed to skew in favor of anti-0nline gambling remains very real.
“More than 70%”? No, not really. Adelson’s own paid researchers sampled respondents in four states: Pennsylvania, California, Kentucky and Virginia. These were the results, with each state providing a very small sample of just a little over 100 respondents:
Pennsylvania – 69%
California – 63%
Kentucky – 61%
Virginia – 72%
MEAN – 66%
Only one of the four states, Virginia, provided a negative response to the question about online gambling as asked, and the mean, at 66%, is the only number that could reasonably used in a collective sense. Virginia, a Southern border state with no casinos and an established horseracing industry, represents just about as “anti” a state to online gambling interests as one could imagine. It can only be viewed as an outlier.
There’s also the question of how biased the survey itself was, and that remains highly suspect. First, a differentiating question served to plant the idea in respondents’ minds that “online gambling” was something different. As taken directly from the stopinternetgambling site:
In a forced choice question on whether or not internet gambling is a different form of
gambling, voters are ready these two statements:
Internet gambling is no different than the other types of gambling that already exist, and that
it is simply a natural extension of gambling options in this technological age,
Internet gambling is very different from other types of gambling that already exist and that there are a
number of key problems and potential abuses with online gambling that do not exist with traditional casino gambling.
It appears that only after this “different” mindset was established that the actual question about a favorable or unfavorable opinion was offered, thereby creating a significant pre-bias. It is also interesting to note that certain questions were asked only of respondents from two states, Kentucky and Virginia; like Virginia, Kentucky also has no land-based casinos, has a significant horseracing industry, and in addition, Kentucky was the home of a significant state-led effort to seize online gambling domains. The bias is extraordinary.
But let’s move on, with another “Fantasies of Sheldon” quote:
So let me get this straight. Proponents say that technology exists to effectively regulate Internet gambling to stop minors, addicted gamblers, money launderers and organized crime from accessing it. But the technology does not exist to block the unscrupulous foreign websites from targeting those same audiences.
Apparently, the technology exists to serve the needs of Internet gambling proponents, but doesn’t exist to serve the needs of those of us who oppose it.
Sounds to me like the height of hypocrisy.
Huh, what? Talk about mixing apples with rutabagas. The technology exists to support willing companies who choose to abide by the laws and whatever restrictions are thereby enacted; the ability of an offshore company to apply a separate business model not bound by US jurisdiction or law is utterly irrelevant to topic of US regulation.
Despite that, geolocation services and age-verification techniques are already used by most prominent online sites and networks, which is one reason why residents of — ahem — Kentucky can’t play on most sites that still accept players from other US jurisdictions.
More yummy Adelson:
But to undertake an experience in one of our casinos, you need to make a series of physical choices. You have to first get dressed, then leave your home in whatever weather you find. You need to be seen and interact with other people, including staff in the casino, you need to physically buy chips and you need to be seen at a table or in the slot area.
In contrast, with Internet gambling, you can get dressed or stay in your pajamas, lying in your bed or sitting at your kitchen while table tapping away on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
Adelson forgets to mention that the Venetian and LVSands are implementing online and smart phone-based systems that allow one to gamble on those very same devices from the comfort of one’s LVSands hotel room. All that talk about coming to the gaming floor apparently doesn’t apply to someone who plays in pajamas from his hotel room. There’s also the very open question of whether Adelson is willfully discriminating against handicapped gamblers who might not have the physical capability to travel to one of Adelson’s casinos. But he doesn’t care about that, either.
In addition, I do believe there will be a negative impact on land-based casinos, especially those in regional locations. This fact has already been demonstrated in Europe. The more they claim success on the Internet, the greater the negative impact on land-based casinos. Anybody who doesn’t think land-based casinos are not going to be hurt is playing wishful thinking.
At least he’s admitting here that his motives are financial. Just the same as his willingness to pull out of his major Spanish casino development project unless his casino receives an exemption to Spain’s ban on smoking in public places. Or the extensive bribery practices by Adelson to establish his landmark Macau casino, the profits from which form the bragging baseline which makes up the rest of Adelson’s most recent LVRJ spew. (Read this PBS report to get a good grasp of how Adelson and LVSands conduct business in Macau.)
Adelson’s disingenuity is the same as his greed: It knows no bounds. Again, we recommend supporting all boycotts of Las Vegas Sands properties, including the Venetian and its once-popular poker series, the Deep Stack Extravanganza.