Sunday, February 14, 2016

Is Rubio Adelson’s Obi-Won?

Yeah, Rubio is more of a robot, but Wynn's skin color is almost that of C-3PO's, so it works.
A long time ago in a casino far, far away lived a man who more closely resembled Jabba the Hutt than Luke Skywalker in both decorum and deed.  Sheldon Adelson considered himself the Force to be reckoned with when it came to gambling,  It was his contention that gambling was to be done in the flesh, with live dealers and real chips, rather than some pixeled reality where cards and transactions occurred in space.

So to combat the newly-invigorated states’ right to offer poker (and other games of chance) via the Internet, Adelson enlisted a vast crew of former politicians and Presidential wanna-bes, all strident and striding forward to spread the gospel of Sheldon for a chance to be handsomely rewarded from the endless coffers of their lord and master.  He’d spend “whatever it takes,” and many were ready for the taking to being in earnest.

There was George Pataki, and Lindsey Graham, and Mike Huckabee, all three who attempted a run for the highest office in the land, only to crash and burn not for the lack of cash, but rather, public support.  Adelson’s Achilles heel was to be the same, or so it seemed.  Despite the creation of a broad-based Coalition (which only had one broad – Blanche Lincoln), two attempts at a misnamed legislative effort to turn back the clock to outlaw online gaming, and seven lobbying firms, there was little enthusiasm for such a move.

And what enthusiasm there was, was waning.  In Congress, fewer bill co-sponsors in 2015 than in 2014.  Ditto for State Attorneys General “signing on” to a support letter.  Congressional hearings hosted by Jason “Guard Dog” Chaffetz went from bad to worse, so much so that even Jason didn’t stick around to the end to see how it all came out.  The Coalition dutifully made a presence online (again, the irony) every month from its inception in November 2013 until July of last year, and then, only a couple of blurbs since, and nothing at all for the last 90 days.  And in the arena of social media, the Coalition hasn’t posted since January 12.  Even more pathetic:  despite more than 15,000 followers, posts get fewer than a half-dozen likes and the only comments left are from the Counteract group.  Lexi the Samoyed’s Facebook page has a better fan base (and cuter videos, too).

Face it – most of the rest of the world was of an opinion that the Internet was a real thing, catching on, and that most forms of commerce could in fact be conducted safely and efficiently online.  Yes, it was ironic that this same technology embraced by the rest of the thinking world was the very same technology used at Adelson’s own casinos to propagate his sports betting services.  But Adelson’s ignorance of this irony allowed him to set aside the notion that this technology was the exact same thing as that technology just as a water bottle is the same thing as a smart phone.  So there.

Still, his vision was at the same place it had been two years prior.  It’s just that no one else can see it, and put it into place.  But he still has hope.  He’s purchased a Death Star newspaper in his home town of Las Vegas, with the intent of “following the news” rather than making it*.  He’s pal-ing around with NFL folks with the idea of using his untold riches** to build a football stadium to lure the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.  He still has his billions.

And there’s one more Jedi-Knight that Adelson can call for help.  Marco Rubio is that last hope, a Jedi-knight-like Senator (in that he can make himself disappear, especially in the Senate when there’s an important vote) that can take Adelson’s warning of online doom and make it a legislative reality.  Despite having made comments earlier that he’d be OK with an online poker carve-out, Adelson’s newspaper gave Rubio their endorsement.  More irony – the poker carve-out was in an interview with a reporter from Sheldon’s newspaper, although it wasn’t his newspaper then.  We think.

To no one’s surprise, less than a week after the endorsement Marco was a good little soldier and addressed the concerns of South Carolina citizens’ concerns by parroting Sheldon’s pathos, stating, “…what I don’t want to see is internet casinos…”  Granted, this wouldn’t be the first time a politician spoke from both sides of his mouth.  It’s obvious Rubio has this science perfected, as he later added that “…he wanted responsible regulation of online gambling instead of what he described as the ‘Wild West’ approach of letting states pass their own laws.”  Apparently he has taken the Adelson perspective that prohibition is somehow regulation.  And up is down.

The Nevada caucuses are about a week away (February 23), just after the South Carolina primary (Adelson doesn’t own a newspaper here).  Rubio is a distant third in Nevada polls and third or fourth in SC (again, distant.  Almost far, far away).  If Adelson can’t get his new Force to Awaken, he might have to deal with the “Orange Menace***” a former casino owner in his own right. 

That would certainly be an attack of the clowns.

* Who am I kidding?  He tried to influence editorial content even before people knew he bought the damned paper. 
** Seriously, who am I kidding?  He wants government money to pay for most of the stadium’s construction. 

*** A cross between the personality of Jar Jar Binks and the hair of Chewbacca.

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