Thursday April 10,2014 : PLAYING BOTH SIDES IN THE ONLINE GAMBLING WAR
US lobbyists and former politicians go for the money.
The highly respected Nevada gambling journalist Jon Ralston explored one of the uglier aspects of the Adelson vs. online gambling conflict this week, scathingly highlighting in his Ralston Report the behaviour of lobbyists and politicians keen to make a buck from the issue.
Ralston first took to task Mary Bono, the former California Congresswoman who currently is the main and very vocal spokesperson for the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, an activist body opposing Sheldon Adelson's bid to get online gambling banned in the United States.
Ralston has firm evidence that a month before she joined the CCOP Bono appeared to offer her services to Adelson's banning campaign, which she now claims is wrong and ill-advised.
Bono was referred to Adelson's top lieutenant, Andy Abboud; a meeting was set up in Washington that did not materialise, and Bono went to the opposing organisation whilst Adelson brought former politicians George Pataki, Blanche Lincoln and Wellington Webb in to his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.
Abboud stuck the knife in when asked for comment, saying:
"It was clear in our dialogue with Mary Bono and her team that they were going to go to the highest and fastest bidder," Abboud said. "She was selling her access as a former member [of Congress]."
Bono claims she was just looking at both sides and realised who was right.
The lobbying firm of Dickstein Shapiro also exhibited ambivalence on this issue, Ralston reports, quoting documentary evidence that prior to joining the Adelson team, the lobbyist had offered its $35,000-a-month services to Caesars Entertainment, a casino company that is opposed to a federal internet gambling ban.
Quoting from the proposal to Caesars, Ralston says the lobbyist recommended that the anti-banning faction "define the Adelson campaign for what it is: a self-interested attempt to protect his interests by imposing ill-advised and unnecessary legal barriers to on-line gaming under the guise of consumer protection."
Apparently that view changed when the lobbyist subsequently saddled up with Adelson's campaign.
Ralston predicts that the fight over online gambling is likely to become increasingly ugly and intense.