Thursday November 21 ,2013 : ADELSON APPEALS TO REPUBLICAN A.G.S FOR INTERNET GAMBLING BAN (Update)
But a counter argument is presented by Caesars Entertainment.
Land gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson continued to press for a federal ban in his war against online gambling this week, appealing to the Republican Attorneys General Association for help in halting the trend by individual states toward legalization.
Adelson is probably the biggest single political donor in the United States, and almost all of it has reportedly gone to the Republican Party.
The publication Buzzfeed reports Republican attorney generals were given for and against presentations by Adelson's senior vice president for government relations, Andy Abboud, with counter arguments presented by Aboud's opposite number at Caesars Entertainment, David J. Satz.
Aboud focused on the dangers of online gambling at the RAGA meeting, presenting poll results suggesting Americans oppose online gambling; technical warnings suggesting that it can be manipulated; and a preview of a new Adelson campaign with the slogan “online gambling just takes gambling too far.”
“We do not think that the technology exists to protect consumers. We feel that casino gaming was never meant to be in every pocket and on every phone in America,” Abboud said.
“Gaming was organized to be a destination. Someone had to get up, get dressed, and make a conscious decision to go. And we just simply don’t think it is good for the industry or good for our country to put a casino in the pocket of every American.”
Buzzfeed reports that Abboud’s presentation included a 2006 letter from the National Association of Attorneys General praising Congress for its efforts to ban internet gambling, as well as data from the Tarrance Group, a Republican polling firm hired by Adelson, showing that a majority of Americans harbour negative views of online gambling.
Satz was more pragmatic and presented logical arguments and technical facts promoting strict regulation, taxation and licensing as a better way to stamp out illegal operators in the US market whilst at the same time generating business, jobs and revenues.
He made a case that online gambling occurs even in states where it is illegal and that law enforcement lacks the tools to enforce current laws. His presentation suggests that this hinders consumer protections such as preventing minors from playing or preventing fraud, and that it also stops states from collecting tax revenue from the industry.
The recommendations in his presentation were for new laws that respect states’ rights and define what is allowed; establish consumer protections and strict regulations; remove unauthorised gambling; and provide resources to law enforcement to keep “bad actors” out of the market.
Earlier this week Adelson staffers said that the big man himself may travel to Washington DC for the launch of his Coalition to Stop Online Gambling in January next year .
The super-wealthy casino owner has reportedly allocated substantial funds for his new drive against online gambling, and has two top lobbyist companies already active in talking to lawmakers and circulating a draft banning proposal.
Jill Bader, communications director for the Republican State Leadership Committee told Buzzfeed:
“The Republican Attorneys General Association does not have a position on this issue, but there are Republican attorneys general on both sides of the debate.”
In related news, the Washington DC political publication The Hill reports that land casino operators gathered in DC Tuesday to develop a strategy against the Adelson initiative against online gambling.
American Gaming Association chief Geoff Freeman said his trade group hosted lottery representatives, game manufacturers and casino operators in a meeting that he described as unprecedented, TheHill.com's Kevin Bogardus reveals.
“When you have a situation like this, it can galvanize and unite parts of a community towards a common cause,” Freeman said. “It was very productive and probably the first time that has ever happened.”
Bogardus has seen a copy of the banning proposal that Adelson lobbyists are apparently circulating among Washington lawmakers, and he reports that it seeks to rewrite the Wire Act to ban online gambling, and would also require the FBI director to issue a study on its dangers two years after the bill passes.
The AGA says online gambling should be brought under federal regulations and argues that banning it would only empower the black market.
“Prohibition of an everyday product has not and will not work,” Freeman said. “The only thing a Wire Act fix does is cement the power of offshore operators.”
The Hill also reveals that a draft letter to Congress opposing the legalization of online gambling has begun to circulate among the state attorneys general. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning is talking to his colleagues about signing it as supporters, Shannon Kingery, a Bruning spokeswoman, told the publication.
Jonathan Griffin, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, pointed out to The Hill that three states have already legalised some form of online gambling, and at least 10 states considered legalization this year to do the same.
“This is a big issue that won’t go away, and we expect many of these states, if not more, to consider legalization in 2014,” Griffin said.