Friday, November 14, 2014

Misleading and Stupid – or Deviously Brilliant?

As many of you know, I fill my free time by being the thorn in Sheldon Adelson’s anti-online-gaming hide.  His Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling has a website, which is pretty straightforward and exactly what you’d expect (and fairly boring), but the Facebook page is something else.  It attempts what all Facebook pages attempt – it is trying to get laid.  No, wait, what I meant to say is that it is trying to be engaging and up-to-date and nudging folks to action.

How they do this is
  • They post stuff which has nothing to do with online gambling, but “sounds” or “feels” like it.
  • They post items about NON-REGULATED gaming sites and “Internet cafes” which have about as much in common with regulated sites in NJ, NV, and DE as I do with Kim Kardashian’s ass.
  • They post month reports from New Jersey and Nevada showing disappointing numbers on online gambling and poker…but fail to do so when the numbers look good.
  • The post insipid videos of poorly made ads and talking heads like Wellington Webb and Blanche Lincoln which make outlandish claims about how online gaming’s “cheap marketing tactics” prey on the unfortunate “young, the poor, and the elderly.”  And never  offer any examples (or show how these tactics differ from land-based casinos like, say, the Venetian).
  • They post these items several times, over and over, as if they can’t get any better information out there.

One such recent post was on November 7, when they postedA satirical look at how online gaming companies use cheap marketing tactics to trick young children and adults into spending money.”  It was a clip from the South Park cartoon show entitled “Freemium Isn’t Free,” One such recent post was on November 7, when they posted, “A satirical look at how online gaming companies use cheap marketing tactics to trick young children and adults into spending money.”  It was a clip from the South Park cartoon show entitled “Freemium Isn’t Free,” described as, “Stan is addicted to the new Terrance and Phillip mobile game.”  The Wikipedia site for the show describes it a bit better: “The episode lampoons the popularity of freemium mobile apps and links them to other addictions, including alcohol and gambling, and their possible genetic predisposition.”  By luck, the repeat of this show was on Comedy Central last night, so despite being not of this program’s target demo, I watched (another good review of the show is here).

The game Stan plays isn’t a gambling game, of course – it’s a social media game along the lines of Candy Crush, Farmville, etc. (except, as you could expect a game featuring the popular fart-loving duo, it’s pretty stupid).  Stupid or not, Stan pays money to get more features in the game (equally dumb), and his dad Randy blows his stack. Randy thinks he has inherited his father’s addiction genes (Stan’s grandpa spends all of his time at the land-casino’s slot machines), and is convinced this is why Stan can’t control his urges.  When confronted by his own “problems” with alcohol, Randy claims he has no addiction issues because all he drinks now is gluten-free beer and wine – and that’s being health conscious (he has further excuses throughout the show).  Near the end of the program Stan summons Satan, who, in hilariously casual fashion, explained how dopamine affects the human body to him. ("It's not f***in' rocket science, this stuff."). 
It turns out the game was introduced by the Canadian Minister of Mobile Gaming who turned out to be, in reality, the Canadian Devil, and he and Satan battle, and it ends predictably enough.  Not important, really.

What IS important is the fact that CSIG felt this was somehow crucial to their cause, to draw one’s attention to the “fact” that kids can get “addicted” to games and they can foolishly spend their parent’s money (though neither the program nor CSIG ever explain how, exactly, Stan was able to charge $2,000+ dollars of game crap so seemingly easily).  Even though there was NOTHING remotely close to what happens in a real, regulated, online gambling portal.  And worse…the program wasn’t about addiction so much as it was about HYPOCRISY.

Yup, that’s right.  All the time Randy was stressed about Stan’s game addiction and his grandpa’s slot habits, Randy was drinking (but he wasn’t addicted, as he explained that he was merely being classy having six wines and beers together in a “tasting”).  Of course, by the end of the show Randy was drinking wine from a large Loving Cup trophy (which…well, I missed the excuse I was laughing so hard).  And as Stan and his grandpa played a board game so that they’d avoid their own demons, Randy was wondering if they should “put some money on it.”

Of course, Adelson is no stranger to being a hypocrite, so maybe the program has some subtle charm for him in that way.

Now I realize the real battle isn’t being fought online.  Sheldon’s big gun$ are aimed at Wa$hington, at the $tate capital$, and at the major deci$ion maker$.  He’s already made the AGA piss its collective self.  He’s hired FIVE lobbying firms to make his case.  He’s got plenty of current and former Congresspeople ready and eager to do his bidding (no pun intended this time).  But he paid good money for a website and the people to run it – and THIS is the BEST they can do?

Maybe this IS the strategy?  Act dumb online, to prove that the Internet makes you stupid and vulnerable.  Ya think?  Comments, please!

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