Tuesday, December 16, 2014

First Annual Report Card for Adelson

It's Detention Hall for you, buddy!
Ask yourself this question:  “Since he declared war a year ago, how’s Sheldon Adelson’s battle with online gambling doing so far?”

If you consider the silly ForbesAdelson is winning” article written halfway through the year, and the recent absence of RAWA in legislation for 2014, you might think it’s a draw, or that he’s won a few and we’ve won a few.  But if you look at the vow he made himself about a year ago in an op-ed piece in the Las Vegas Review-Journal (in response to THIS editorial from Howard Stutz), you can keep score with the best of them, and know that Sheldon’s major thrust is a bust.

Overall, has he stopped online gambling?  Not in the least.  Not one iota.  Phhhhht!

How about the things he said in the op-ed?  Well, let’s consider them one at a time.

Adelson: “(Stutz) suggests I will spend ‘millions’ on a campaign to defeat Internet gambling. I have made no such prediction, and frankly this debate shouldn’t be about what I spend or don’t spend.”

Reality:  Not much later Adelson boasted that he was “…willing to spend whatever it takes,” to stop online gambling.  So far, the wallet is wide open.

Adelson:  It (the debate as to whether to permit or prohibit online gambling) should be about two things:
1) Is it bad for the public and our society in general?
2) Is it bad or even dangerous for the gaming industry?

Reality:  Throughout 2014 Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling have tried to show that online gambling is bad for the public and society.  In his op-ed, he tried to paint two distinct pictures - gambling in person in a casino (like he owns) is GOOD, and gambling online in your PJ’s is BAD.

What he never gets around to explaining, however, is WHY.  

Here was his argument then:
"On the first point, the main argument from Internet gambling proponents is that we need to legalize online gambling in the United States to regulate it, because the government has not been able to stop offshore online gambling sites from doing business in the U.S., or worse, operating websites involved in illegal activity.  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."

Ladies and Gentlemen, this year’s winner of the mumbo-jumbo award!  Seriously, what does that even mean?  It’s supposed to sound scary and smart and factual and accusatory, but it never really answers the question…or even re-states it.

This type of word salad is what CSIG and Adelson’s other minions (Abboud, Jacobus, Thackston, and the four co-chairs of CSIG) are famous for.  Talking about offshore illegal sites in the same breath as legal U.S. sites.  Combining Internet cafes and freemium games like Candy Crush and Yahoo Hold’ em with legal, regulated state sites.  Making fiction (boy steals his Mom’s credit cards and loses $20K “in a nano-second.”) sound like facts.  Scary facts.

The Headless Horseman was scary, too, but not real.  Not much from CSIG is, either.  There is a tremendous amount of scary potential and fear-based predictions tossed into the mix - this COULD happen, this MIGHT happen, the FBI WARNED us about this (five years ago), etc.  And of course, everything they fear MIGHT happen already HAS happened…at a land-based casino.  Like Sheldon’s.

And that’s one more thing - shouldn’t a group dedicated to stopping an Internet activity actually KNOW something about how the Internet works (I’m looking at YOU, Senator Harry “up in the sky” Reid)? 

So that brings us to item two - is it (online gambling) bad or even dangerous for the gaming industry?  Here’s Adelson:
“…the land-based casinos…have a very high risk of losing at least 20 percent from their top line while at the same time risk losing a more significant percentage of their bottom line.”

Reality:  Does Las Vegas based Sands Corporation have anything to fear here?  Are they panic-stricken that the all-important California market could find it easier to play via the comfort of their living rooms and smart-phones (or water bottles in Adelson’s case) than to drive over to the Venetian?  Does the CSIG Website and Facebook page continually post stories about all those “disappointing results” in existing (but young) markets in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey?

You bet.  And then reality really sinks in.  

What do YOU think?

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