Adelson Shuts Out Online Poker News Reports from Venetian Poker Room

June 7, 2014

Sheldon Adelson’s stance against online poker is no secret by now, and his strong and very rich opinion has some people nervous. Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands, makes it very clear just how far he’s willing to go to “protect” the US from online gambling. He’s threatened to “spend whatever it takes” on his anti-Internet gambling cause and in January of this year, he formed the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

Adelson’s argument against online poker and online gambling is that it is morally wrong, preying on underage gamblers and other vulnerable sectors of society, as is explained in the bill he had drafted that would prohibit online poker regulations at the state level, including those that have already initiated regulations and have experienced a successful market.

Adelson, being the owner of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and the Venetian Hotel and Casino, has even taken a stand in his own poker room. In the past, Adelson has allowed his poker room at the Venetian to run at its full potential, putting finances over his moral stand against online poker. But not anymore.

During a Mid-Stakes Poker Tour event that was part of the casino’s Deep Stack Extravaganza series, poker media group PokerNews was prohibited from reporting live updates from the event simply because the online news site promotes online poker.

The Venetian declined to comment, but many believe that Adelson is decreasing poker activity on his property. Last year’s tournament expanded from 59 to 119 tables, spreading into the Palazzo Hotel and Casino next door. But this year, the Venetian has restricted the series to just their poker room, despite an original schedule that could have clearly supported more.

Furthermore, players are getting shut out of the tournaments because of an early registration deadline and cash game tables. With nearly double the tables of the closest competitors, during non-WSOP time, the Sands Poker Room at the Venetian is the largest poker room in Vegas.

Tommy LaRosa, Venetian Tournament Director, wrote, “I simply have no room to keep registration open as late as you would hope. There would be no room to fit additional players. I would love nothing more than to keep registration open until dinner break, have 1,000 player fields, maximize revenue and prize pool. Unfortunately though, I do not have 400 tables like the WSOP.”

What scares people is that Adelson’s threats against online poker may be materializing to reality. Forbes is now actually reporting that Adelson’s efforts are helping, pointing out mainly that the American Gaming Association no longer supports online poker, as well as the sleepy online poker markets set up in the three states where online poker has been regulated, Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada.

But not all hope is lost. If California, the nation’s most populous state, can get legislation passed, the online poker market in America may just turn around. California may have to allow PokerStars a piece of the pie, though, if they are to reach an agreement with all 14 tribes. Thirteen tribes have agreed to legislation that includes a bad actor clause, something that the Morongo Band of Mission Indian tribe, partner to PokerStars, is not willing to endorse.


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