Monday February 3 ,2014 : ADELSON GETS AN ALLY IN ONLINE GAMBLING BAN QUEST
But Steve Wynn is becoming notorious for his ambivalent views on the issue
Respected Nevada journalist Jon Ralston generated interest in the online gambling issue over the weekend with a report suggesting that – for now at least – Wynn Resorts owner Steve Wynn appears to be on-side with fellow land gambling mogul and owner of Las Vegas Sands, Sheldon Adelson, in his campaign to ban the pastime in the United States.
Sheldon and Adelson have a history of antipathy to one another, Ralston points out, and their agreement on this issue surprised him.
Ralston claims that he was advised by Adelson that Wynn agreed with his negative views on internet gambling.
Ralston checked back with Wynn and found to his surprise that Wynn supported the Adelson view, although the writer does not mention whether this might translate into monetary or other support for Adelson's Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling .
And it has to be borne in mind that Wynn's opinions tend to be ambivalent on the issue; Ralston recalls that prior to Black Friday in 2011 Wynn was in talks with Pokerstars about a combined US venture, and his casino company’s fledgling online division is currently awaiting a transactional waiver to conduct online gambling in New Jersey.
Then there was his apparent epiphany on internet poker after discussing the possibilities with veteran Nevada senator Harry Reid during one of that politician's several failed runs at legalising online poker at the federal level. Wynn reportedly admitted that his negative views had been misconceived, and that properly regulated online poker offered the prospect of better control over young gamblers than that possible in brick and mortar casinos.
He has also – as recently as late last year – declared that he is neither for or agin' online gambling legalization, although he said that he thought that banning the genre was as impractical as the bad old days of Prohibition, when US politicians tried unsuccessfully to stop the consumption of liquor.
However…back to the Ralston column at WND Money and his interview with Wynn:
"Not since these two bonded on their disgust for the president and his policies do they seem to be so in sync on a subject," Ralston reports.
"And with the two biggest names in the industry now on the same side opposing gaming on the Internet, that changes a dynamic that had previously been widely perceived as Adelson vs. the world."
Ralston goes on to directly quote Wynn, who told him:
“I end up agreeing with Sheldon.” He went on to express in "quite passionate" terms his concerns about the US government's "insatiable appetite for revenue" and the possibility that a major internet gambling scandal presented the risk of the industry's name being blackened.
He was worried about underage and college gambling and the potential this offered for financial hassles, Wynn said, commenting that Adelson's concerns on the subject represented "a square question."
Perhaps more pragmatically, Wynn asked: “Where is the business opportunity? The big problem I see is I don’t see the government letting us keep the money.”
He also dismissed the ability of modern technology to block underage gamblers as "bull…." despite practical demonstrations by the likes of Tom Breitling at Ultimate Gaming, a recently launched Nevada legalised online poker room.
Wynn also boasted that whilst he knew how to build impressive land casinos and resorts that attracted people, he did not know how to do that on "a 17 inch screen."
Finally, Wynn said he fretted about the already fragile Las Vegas economy being impacted by legalised online gambling…and he feared the potential of state lotteries adding further competitive pressure through online activity.
However, Wynn still managed to keep Ralston…and his readers….guessing by emphasising that his position on web gambling was not immutable
“It’s possible it could change,” he said, noting that the issue for the moment is moot, because getting a measure through the US House of Representatives is unlikely. “They can’t agree on anything, especially something this esoteric,” he remarked.
Comments on the article so far have been generally critical, accusing Wynn and Adelson of cynical self-interest in their efforts to kill online gambling.
As a side note, Wynn will have been celebrating the news last Thursday that his Macau company nearly doubled profits in the fourth quarter as punters from the Chinese mainland continued to bring large amounts of cash into his casino.