That's a GOOD thing, for today’s big event is Adelson's keynote address at the Global Gaming Expo. Yeah, that’s sandwiched between anniversary and birthday, partly because at this writing I have no idea how good or bad I'm gonna get screwed. When it was first announced, there was much gnashing of teeth, since while Shelly is the biggest thing in gambling (money-wise), he’s also one of the most polar. Folks either hate him or despise him (I kid…everyone despises him). He’s controversial to be sure, and some questioned him being the keynote. But then again, the G2E IS in his home court (Sands Expo and Convention Center), so maybe he offered them a discount so he could get that plum assignment. Ha!
Anyway, one of the hot topics has been whether or not Adelson would speak on internet gaming. His views ARE well known, of course, and it’s one reason he’s highly controversial (his dumping of millions of dollars to influence all sorts of legislation and elections across the US might be another). Many thought he’d shy away from the issue, but here’s my view: why spend all that money buying Senators, CongressGuys, etc., having a Coalition and a (crappy) website and even getting involved with social media with a Facebook page (equally crappy, and sort of contradictory if you think about it), and then taking the stage for one of the biggest gaming events in the world and NOT speak about igaming, even if it’s the same old (tired and wrong) rhetoric we’ve come to loathe and expect all along?
Well, Sheldon did not disappoint. In a keynote Q&A (never seen one of those before) moderated by Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business, Adelson touched on a variety of issues – why he’s so successful in Macau, his “good friend Steve” (Wynn, who is much better buds now that he made several bows to Adelson yesterday and took a stronger anti-online-gaming stance), and other expansionist ideas here in the US (Texas, South Florida, and Tampa, which is no longer located in South Florida). Oh, and the Meadowlands, maybe. And then the moment we all were waiting for – Gros asked about his opposition to online gaming.
Even though I was watching in the comfort of my own home (via Livestream on the internet – how ironic), I felt the heat come from the octogenarian. Man, you would have thought someone was on his lawn. Despite several attempts by Gros to actually rebut some of Shelly’s more wilder accusations, Adelson put on a tour-de-farce that made him look like an 80-year old man who’s out of touch with today’s technology, not to mention reality. Some examples:
- Gros said that online gaming was already here, and that stopping it was like trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Adelson said, “The genie is not out of the bottle.” Say what?
- Adelson says everyone has a cellphone. I don’t. Just sayin’.
- He said that online gaming is not a state's rights issue due to the borderless nature of the Internet. Because it crosses borders, it should be a Federal issue. Of course, it crosses the US borders, too…whachagonnado about that, Shelly?
- Adelson says 3 year olds can circumvent identity verification controls on iGaming sites. They can barely WIPE themselves, and yet they can get around ID controls?
- He added that it’s impossible to know your customer on the internet. Amazon, eBay, and a thousand banks might think otherwise.
- He said he was worried about online gaming exploiting working middle class families; then suggested that “we” (his company) knows who is high in their casinos, unlike online casinos. Ironically, this picture came into my Twitter feed at about the same time. Again, just sayin’.
- Finally, Adelson said, "If the federal government would enforce the law," there would be no unregulated online gambling. How I laughed…
Face it – What we have here is a very, very, very rich man, made rich by bringing gambling to people he perceived wanted it…trying to stop others from bringing gambling to people who want it in a slightly different method. And he’s prepared to spend “whatever it takes” to see his vision through. Just like he has in Las Vegas and Macau.
I am a bit worried, and perhaps a bit frightened, but I am NOT STAYING OFF THE LAWN.
Thanks to Chris Grove (@OPReport), Howard Stutz (@howardstutz), Steve Ruddock (@SteveRuddock), The PPA (@ppapoker), and Casino City Vin (@casinocityvin) for following Adelson’s keynote via Twitter.