Monday, September 29, 2014

Myth vs. Fact vs. Godzilla - Deconstructing a CSIG "Fact" Sheet

In my roll as Adelson's "Poker Troll" I read and review the various items on his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling website and Facebook page.  One item that repeatedly pops up on the FB page is the "Myth vs. Fact" paper drawn from the December, 2013 hearing on Internet gambling before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.  Basically, they've taken 9 claims made by various proponents of online gaming and "rebutted" them (emphasis on the "butt").  In this rebuttal to the rebuttal, I examine in close detail (and a bit of snark) just how weak their arguments are.

I will post their paper with little markers showing where I feel the need to interject facts, corrections, and sarcasm.  And we begin with the title...

  1. This is the ONLY place the word "Myth" appears - all of the actual arguments are marked "Claim" (pro-online) versus "Fact" (the CSIG).  Naturally, "Myths vs. Facts" is a very provocative title, designed to grab one's attention.  Problem is, the "myths" (or claims) turn out to be true much of the time, and the "Facts" are usually opinions, not facts.  And it goes downhill from there...
  1. This would be smart, since the major booster of CSIG does, in fact, owe his billions to casino gambling.
  2. Not true - Americans have gambled online for almost 15 years -  the Restore America's Wire Act (RAWA) ends online gambling (except the carve-outs of horse racing and fantasy sports).  
  3. This is true, but RAWA isn't "thoughtful legislation" - it's prohibition on ONE form of delivery of gambling.
  4. This is a bad analogy.  Gambling isn't nearly as ubiquitous as cigs and booze.  It's also not true - as many as 23 states offer some type of drive-up alcohol sales. You can also buy cigarettes online.  Jeebus, would someone teach someone at CSIG how to use Google?
  1. They never say this isn't true - they just try to "explain it away."  Nice try.
  2. I wasn't aware that this was a crime.
  3. The "evidence" for this comes from the oft-used-in-this-paper 2009 FBI Letter to Congress. First, two things: One, it's OLD.  Five years is an eternity in the cyber-world.  Second, and most important - the 2009 letter talks about what COULD happen and MIGHT happen, and then concludes that, as far as the FBI knows, it HASN'T happened - see more on this below.
  4. It's interesting that they cite a FIVE-YEAR OLD LETTER from the FBI here, instead of a more recent letter from 2013.  Of course, THAT ONE was shredded to pieces - best done here. And of course, the letters only make the case FOR, not AGAINST, online gambling regulation.

  1. Not true.  RAWA ENDS online gaming - there is no call for "close consideration."  Besides, how can you study something that isn't there?
  2. It appears CSIG dabbles in mind-reading.  More to the point, while Congress might have shirked their duty, the individual states had a chance to consider the issue, and three states (NJ, NV, and DE) went forward.  More states have discussed the matter FULLY, and will follow.  Is anyone surprised that Congress dragged its feet - on this, or anything, for that matter?
  3. But sites in NJ, NV, and DE aren't ROGUE sites.  They are legitimate, regulated poker sites that have been shown to draw players FROM the ROGUE sites.  Players in states without a legit site STILL play at Full Flush, Carbon, and many others.  Not so easy, huh?
  4. We already pooh-poohed the cigs above.  And isn't it interesting that they toss in the pharms from Canada, which many believe were banned not to "keep us safe from bad drugs," but to keep U.S. Pharmaceutical companies profits high.  In other words, protectionism.  Kinda like RAWA (the Restore Adelson's Wampum Act).
  1. Tell the NRA this.
  2. It doesn't mean it's NOT OK.  Oh, and can we use this argument in Florida?  Seems there is a casino developer who wants to come into the state and build a casino near DisneyWorld. Think of the children!  Oh,'s the same guy who wants to end online gaming!  I am shocked, shocked...
  3. Again, many states considered the serious social and policy ramifications...and moved forward.
Well, that's about half of the so called "myths and claims" - and that's about all I can stomach for now. Watch for Part Two later this week (hopefully before Adelson addresses the multitudes at the Global Gaming Expo).  As always, your comments are welcome.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My New Passion - Trolling Adelson

As my wife and I approach retirement (three years away), we’ve discussed how to spend our not-working-anymore time “for the good.”  Mona has considered the problem of adult illiteracy, and working with groups to combat this problem.  I commend her - the ability to read is the key to everything - learning, understanding, and so much more.  For me, I’ve decided that I will test out being a troll.

Specifically, I hate the idea of big money controlling everything, including our government, and there’s no bigger Public Enemy #1 than Sheldon Adelson.  So I’ve decided to be the thorn in his side, the pain in his buttocks, the troll who monitors his “Coalition to Stop Online Gambling” websites.  It’s the least I can do, and I usually do the least I can do.

I try to check both the original website and their Facebook page. That’s not an easy task - one needs a strong stomach.  Both sites are big on hype and scare tactics, and short on facts.  The Facebook page is especially fun - they tend to take news tidbits and repost the same thing over and over with different headlines, just to make it look like something is happening.

I try to “help” Shelly and his friends by providing the missing pieces…like actual facts.  For example, the StopInternetGambling Facebook page had news about the dip in revenues from New Jersey online gaming…several times.  I couldn’t understand why they’d trumpet this - it’s like the retirees in the old folks’ homes who complain that the food is horrible…and in such small portions!  So when the August numbers were released, showing an uptick, I posted that news on their site.

The Facebook page also has direct appeals to visitors to join them, like, “Tell Congress to restore the federal ban on Internet gambling through our website” but they forgot to give reasons for doing so.  So I thought I could be of assistance - I found this recent article from Forbes (September 9) about California’s online gaming being on hold, where their fearless leader was cited:

"Among the reasons for optimism has been the presence of a number of lawmakers who support the measure, but roadblocks have been set for a number of reasons, including the presence of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. The politically active Adelson has already contributed north of $300,000 to slow the legalization of online gambling over fears that the industry could harm land-based casino business, where Adelson has a heavy stake." (emphasis mine).

I hope that helps.

I plan to keep at this even if/when they bar me from their Facebook page (they can’t keep me from their website, and there are ways to get the FB info - I can bribe that kid in their ads to steal his Dad’s password so I can override the barring, or something.  It’s pretty cool.).  In the meantime, if I did not invite you to join C4SIG - the Coalition to Counteract the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling - I apologize (it was a rush job just to get the FB site up and going).  Take this opportunity now to go to the site and join, post pro-online-poker items (or anti-Adelson items - same difference).  Yes, we don’t have his money (and truthfully, that’s the big thing to overcome), but we also don’t have his looks, and we all can be thankful for that.

We also have the PPA on our side, as well as millions of poker players, poker-friendly politicians, and one more thing.  We’re right.  Let freedom ring and shuffle up and deal!