Online gambling is a menace to society and dangerous to Americans, according to Sheldon Adelson. The 80-year-old billionaire, of course, is the CEO of Las Vegas Sands, and made most of his fortune from upscale casinos in Nevada and, recently, Macau.
As three states have legalized online gambling this year, Adelson is planning a public campaign to fight online gambling, claiming it's a "danger to children, the poor, and others who could be easily exploited."
Yes, a man who's built half a dozen casinos all over the world (from Singapore to Pennsylvania) is saying all this with, apparently, a straight face. Though online gambling can be more dangerous than real-life gambling due to ease of access, even the most naive of people can't read this news as anything other than a rich old man fighting to protect his turf.
After all, online gambling, if legalized, has been predicted to become a $50 billion industry, and the rise of online poker in the mid-2000s took a huge chunk of business from brick and mortar casinos. Adelson's political aid, Andy Abboud, told the Washington Post that in his 15 years of working with Adelson, he's never seen the casino magnate so "passionate" about any single issue.
John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, responded: “We don’t make a habit of picking fights with billionaires, but in this case, I think we’ll win, because millions of Americans who want to play online will oppose this legislation, along with dozens and dozens of states that want the freedom to authorize any kind of gaming they see fit.” [Washington Post]