Saturday December 27,2014 : DOES ONLINE GAMBLING HAVE ITS MESSAGING RIGHT IN THE U.S.A?
Adelson PR company says anti-online gambling campaign better at putting its viewpoint across.
The past year has seen plenty of cut and thrust in the online gambling legality duel between companies and political frontmen inspired by the largesse of land casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and the perhaps less generously funded companies and organisations fighting to prevent the aging multi-billionaire from driving through a federal prohibition on most of the US industry.
Respected journalist Steve Ruddock examined the ongoing battle in an interesting article this week which noted the defeat of Adelson's attempt to append his Restoration of America's Wire Act legalization to must-pass budget legalization in the dying moments of the last Congressional season
Whilst applauding the tactical victory for online gambling, Ruddock warned that Adelson and his minions are unlikely to leave it at that, and 2015 will see continued efforts to derail the state-by-state progress on legalised online gambling.
Taking a "know your enemy" perspective on the fight, Ruddock points to comments made recently by Fabian Nunez of Mercury Public Affairs, one of several high-priced lobbying and PR agencies that the Adelson initiative has employed to push its agenda.
Nunez appeared to feel that his side has the upper hand (well, he would, wouldn't he?) due to superior messaging – the ability to get across a message that resonates with its target audiences.
Adelson supporters can point to the fact that the predicted "domino effect" of other states following Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware into intrastate online gambling has not materialised, and that could be at least in some part due to Adelson's comprehensive campaigning.
Nunez boasted that the ability of the campaign to get to grips with essential debating points like the underperformance of legalised online gambling when measured against state predictions, and the dangers of underage gambling has helped to make state lawmakers hesitant on legalization.
Ruddock examines this claim and concludes that the pro online gambling lobby should perhaps consider toning down three talking points that do not seem to be generating the desired impact with uncommitted audiences, and concentrate on two that are effective.
His selection of the three points that are not really working includes the argument that poker is a skill game, the possibility of tax revenues (although he suggests that this could be reworked into how much states are losing to unauthorised operators); and the libertarian argument that adults should be allowed to make their own decisions on where to spend their disposable income.
Ruddock explains why he feels these arguments are less than effective here:
He suggests that the emphasis should be on the fact that online gambling is easily accessible, with large numbers of Americans gambling online despite the considerable efforts to discourage this by federal agencies and politicians, and that past experience has shown that prohibition does not work.
That proposition is underpinned by the logical argument that legalised and regulated online gambling is safer for the consumer, a debate that can be factually supported by the numbers emanating from Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, and by highlighting the Full Tilt Poker debacle, recent DDoS attacks and other negative impacts on unauthorised operators.
And Ruddock suggests that the safety advantages of state regulated and licensed online gambling vs. unauthorised operators can be practically demonstrated to telling effect.
However, the Tenth Amendment states' rights argument is probably the most powerful weapon against the anti-online gambling lobbys' attempts to bring about a federal ban, Ruddock suggests. It is a talking point which has persuaded influential organisations to oppose legalization like the RAWA even if they are not especially disposed to support online gambling, and it is certainly a view that resonates with both citizens and many state politicians…that states should have the autonomy to make their own decisions on laws applied within their boundaries.
We would add that more pro online gambling energy could probably be invested in countering the often exaggerated and unsubstantiated misinformation trotted out by apparently ignorant Adelson front men and women – the recent television interview of former Senator Blanche Lincoln on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News show being a very recent case in point.