Sheldon Adelson’s clout opposing Internet gambling

Sep 4, 2012 3:00 AM

Just when we thought casino industry bosses spoke with one voice on every issue of consequence. It’s not surprising some observers would wonder if Sheldon Adelson’s willingness to spend millions to put Mitt Romney in the White House might have brought him some influence in the writing of the 2012 GOP platform, which includes opposition to Internet gambling.

The Las Vegas Sands chairman was already on record opposing Internet gambling months before the details of the Republican platform became public last week and followers of the Internet gaming issue turned to see what Adelson might have to say on the subject.

Adelson has previously cited Internet gaming’s likely impact on social issues as the reason for his opposition. But it is probably also true he would just as soon have deep-pocketed consumers in search of a gaming and entertainment experience show up at his hotels and casinos rather than sit hunched over a computer keyboard in the privacy of their homes.

That was Steve Wynn’s thinking on the subject before he became an Internet convert. Other prominent casino industry CEOs (like Penn’s Peter Carlino) have also given serious thought to the pros and cons of Internet poker – the most likely first use of the Internet for gambling purposes.

And that brings us to that voice of reason House Speaker John Boehner who was recently wondering how many of the faithful in either party have ever paid serious attention to what the platforms had to say about anything.

Congress has had trouble this past year passing any kind of legislation as that body has already demonstrated, but the momentum for Internet poker’s approval on a state by state basis continues building.

South Point owner Michael Gaughan who was recently approved to begin offering Internet poker within Nevada’s borders, seems to shrug off the likely impact of any kind of federal action.

“I think the train has left the station,” he said. “The feds have missed the chance to make a difference. A lot of states are anxious to do their own thing.”

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].