The Push to Ban Online Betting in the US – A Fruitless Battle Against Changing Times

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In the case of online betting in the United States, some conservative interest groups have found themselves standing side by side with their enemy.  A key player in the gambling industry itself is pushing to deny the land of the free access to a form of entertainment enjoyed by responsible adults around the world.

Sheldon G. Adelson is an 80-year-old billionaire land-based casino magnate behind a recent drive to ban online betting. Lawmakers among them Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in donations from Adelson and his family. According to the New York Times – recently introduced legislation that would close a loophole in federal law and end online gaming in several states that have recently legalized it.

Online Betting - Canada

Online Betting – US Legislation

The New York Times cited industry sources stating that Adelson had threatened to withdraw from the powerful American Gaming Association if it continued to support expanded online gaming. Forbes reported that Adelson views online gaming as a competitive threat to his casinos. Forbes added, “He argues that displacement of casino gaming by the online activity will result in job losses. With equivalent regard for consumers and the free enterprise system, bricks-and-mortar bookstores could have urged Congress to strangle Amazon in the crib.” Ad3elson thinks that online gambling is taking over from the brick and mortar casinos. However, technology keeps changing and bettering our lives. Times change and somehow online gambling will be ruling.

Adelson, the chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corp, has financed a new group called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. The coalition is supported by a long list of interest groups, primarily made up of social conservative and faith-based organizations such as the influential Faith and Freedom Coalition. In response, the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection was established by Adelson’s rivals (including Caesar’s Entertainment and MGM Resorts International). Who argues that the ban will block important consumer protections, threaten state and individual rights and stifle innovation. Jan L. Jones, head of government relations at Caesars and former mayor of Las Vegas, told the New York Times that it was unfortunate when an industry undermines itself.

According to Reuters, the bill was not expected to go far as analysts said Congress may not even bring the measure up for a vote this year. Quoting Republican strategist John Feehery, Reuters reported that the lack of national consensus on online gambling would probably discourage many members of Congress from the issue.

It would seem that Adelson is starting a battle against changing times. Online betting continues to grow in other parts of the world, including neighboring Canada. Although big industry can influence politics by throwing around its financial weight, ultimately politicians will follow the will of the people wherever that may lead. A sounder long-term strategy would be to embrace developments and adapt accordingly, as Caesar’s Entertainment and MGM Resorts International are already prepared to do.