Let it not be said that Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling creator and backer Sheldon Adelson isn’t getting his money’s worth with his new Washington, D.C. lobbying dream team. That being said, it can be difficult to listen to their message – bought and paid for by one of the largest casino operators in the world, with land casinos throughout the U.S. and Macau, among other nations – and not snicker just a teensy, tinsy little bit.
Fervor and Condemnation
Not since Carrie Nation and the temperance movement of the early 20th century or McCarthy’s impassioned anti-Communist followers has such zealotry been demonstrated, spurred to action by those opposed to online gaming’s wicked spread. But this might be the first time those advocates represent someone who has no problem whatsoever with that vice, as long as it happens on terra firma.
It seems the coalition’s latest effort involved a media conference via telephone last week, with five of Adelson’s key lobbyists on their virtual soap boxes. Of course, these soldiers are all highly paid mercenaries, but in battle, one does what is necessary to win the war.
“Internet gambling expands like a disease,” decried former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb (D). “Jobs would be lost,” he added, as he espoused the view that once gambling is available in-house – literally – no one would ever leave theirs again.
And then there’s the children whose lives would be destroyed forever, according to retired U.S Sen. Blanche Lincoln (R-Ark), who sees those who support Internet gaming as a kind of Fagin from “Oliver Twist,” capturing the minds and manipulating the actions of the innocents by putting “casinos in the pockets of children, 24/7.”
And let’s not overlook terrorism and money laundering, which, of course, could never set foot in a land casino anywhere. Former New York Governor George Pataki (R) is convinced that online gambling is a menace to national security, and used an FBI letter’s key points to emphasize this inalienable truth.
All of the phone speakers got behind the notion that Congress must move now to stop this perceived blight on humanity, while an interim “timeout” on Internet gambling should be set in place meanwhile to halt the spread of this new Bubonic Plague.
Alfonso Aguilar – representing the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles and its executive director – said, “This is not an America that we want.” He said he was one of 39 faith-based organizations that have come on board and are seeing the light.
C4COP Takes Up Arms
Fighting back, of course – as we have reported recently – is the newly formed Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection (C4COP), and that outfit has its own muscle behind it. Major casino operators MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corp., Station Casinos, and Boyd Gaming Corp., among others, are staunchly pro-Internet gambling, and have the backup army of the American Gaming Association – the casino industry’s main lobbying voice and a group to which Adelson ironically belongs – to carry the rear in their return volleys.
Of course, with Adelson’s extensive financial muscle, C4COP will need all the ammo they can get to fire back, as the Las Vegas Sands CEO has said he will “spend whatever it takes” to put the final bullets and tie the weights to this Rasputin-esque form of evil. Never mind he spent whatever it took to try to get Romney elected back in 2012, and we know how that worked out. Confidence is king when you have more money than God himself.
The unspoken white elephant in the room, of course, is the possibility that Adelson is more concerned that online gaming may take a bite out of his massive casino empire’s revenue share, more than actually being worried about the Artful Dodgers and money launderers taking over the world. And with three states already up and running with Internet gambling in the U.S. (Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey), and another possible 10 eyeing legislation to make it happen in their states as well, it would seem that not only has this horse left the barn, but possibly an entire stampede as well.
And Congress has shown a consistent lack of interest in getting too fervently involved in either side of this debate, no doubt in part because it is an election year for many, and they don’t want to tick anyone off. Two recent bills for, and one against, Internet gaming could find no substantial backing in either direction.