Tuesday February 11 ,2014 : ADELSON ANTI-ONLINE GAMBLING GROUP LAUNCHES T.V. CAMPAIGN
Advert leans heavily on scare tactics.
Supported by press material, the Sheldon Adelson-funded Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling is currently running a scare television campaign targeted on persuading Americans and their political representatives that online gambling will destroy lives and homes while helping mobsters and terrorists to launder money if it is allowed to flourish.
Reporting on the advert, The National Journal and other publications are in many cases embedding copies of the advertisement: http://www.nationaljournal.com/technology/what-do-terrorism-and-online-poker-have-in-common-20140210 …thought to be the first in a series using such speculative scare tactics to demonise online gambling.
The advertisement hews to the now familiar Adelson strategy of frequently referencing the FBI, quoting highly selective passages from a letter sent to a Congressman by that organisation last September, outlining possible money laundering routes through a number of industries, but providing no hard evidence of such practices.
"While the FBI is busy defending against terrorist threats and cyberattacks, Internet gambling will give criminals across the world a foothold in every American household, attracting criminal activity not only at home but internationally," the ad dramatically warns, while attempting to pass off press releases and editorials that claim the activity is a "strategic national threat" as objective news reporting.
Online gambling advocates were quickly critical of the video, calling it "absurd" and "irresponsible."
"The notion that licensed and regulated Internet poker would be an attractive conduit for terrorism financing is on its face laughable," said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, in a statement.
"There isn't a shred of evidence to support this, except for far-fetched claims manufactured by this coalition."
Pro-online gambling advocates point out that tracking money through internet gambling sites is highly effective through advanced technology and operator risk and safety precautions.
Adding to the sinister theme of the advert is a heavy, ominous sound track and a rather theatrical narrator.
Las Vegas Sands land casinos owner Adelson has vowed to spend "whatever it takes" to impose his version of morality on Americans when it comes to online gambling, and some reports say he has invested a "six-figure sum" in putting his spin on the issue as he tries to influence public and political opinion through op-ed articles, hired lobbyists, speeches by political front-men and paid advertising.
As one of the largest donors to the Republican Party, he is in a strong position to influence views in an election year.
Countering Adelson's CSIG action group is the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, which is also about to launch a $250,000 campaign to bring balance to the issue and oppose the CSIG attempt to impose a federal ban
American Gaming Association president Geoff Freeman said in an email to his board last week:
"The Coalition [for Consumer and Online Protection], will operate exclusively at the federal level – encouraging Congress to embrace regulation as the best means to protect minors, detect money launderers and eliminate a dangerous black market."
In related news, the usually well-informed Nevada gaming reporter Jon Ralston reports that Adelson's CSIG mouthpieces, former New York governor Governor George Pataki, Senator Blanche Lincoln and Mayor Wellington Webb, have signed off on a letter to members at the American Gaming Association – a trade body for land casino operators which is opposed to his anti-online gambling campaign – attacking the Association’s stand on the banning issue.
The letter dispatched yesterday (Monday) calls for a "time out" on internet gambling and a revamp of the 1961 Wire Act so that it is expanded to include online gambling generally rather than online sports betting exclusively.
In doing so it ironically invokes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has been trying unsuccessfully for years to get a federal bill legalising online poker through Congress.
Ralston Reports characterises the letter as "…a sustained attack on claims made by the AGA, of which Adelson is a member" and references the television advert released the same day by Adelson's Coalition in what is clearly a multi-pronged attack on internet gambling.
The letter is long and burdened with selective references, and can be viewed in full here: