Billionaire Casino Mogul Denies Online Poker

December 13, 2011

Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, who has a great deal of clout when it comes to the legalization for online gambling with Republican lawmakers due to his large donations to political campaigns, made a comment last week that Internet gambling technology isn’t advanced enough to prevent underage gambling. Adelson is especially tied to Senator Jon Kyl, Republican from Arizona, who happens to be a big supporter of the UIGEA and the opposition against US Internet poker.

Adelson’s statement has outraged poker players, who have decided to boycott the Venetian Poker Room at the Sands and are urging others to stay out of the room as well.

Spokesperson for the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Richard Muny urged radio broadcast listeners to send messages via Twitter straight to the Venetian telling them of their displeasure with Adelson’s statement.

Seventy-eight-year-old Adelson is on Forbes list for richest American, ranking 8th, 16th in the world, and is estimated to have a net worth of $21+ billion, taking in an estimated 80% of the $2.4 billion in quarterly earnings from the Las Vegas Sands, and casinos in Macau and Singapore.

Adelson traveled to Asia just recently in support of casino legalization in Japan and Vietname and is also backing a Miami casino resort property in hopes that Florida will legalize gaming. Before he went to Asia though, he visited DC to notify the American Gaming Association (AGA) and Kyl of his opposition to the regulation of Internet poker.

Despite the attempt by other Las Vegas casino owners to change Adelson’s opinion based on the potential $5+ billion in possible annual revenue that regulated online poker would generate, the billionaire casino mogul refuses to change his mind.

While many big casino operators in Vegas have already formed partnerships with successful overseas Internet poker companies, Adelson has not. Many insiders, including Internet poker pro and poker writer Zach Tracy, believe Adelson is so strongly opposed to regulated online poker because he has not yet made any connections and is not in a position to compete with these other brands.

Tracy says, “He is in opposition because all of his industry ducks are not in a row yet to compete in a new market. I think he is trying to block competitors from getting a bill through.”

Recently inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame, Adelson may be only hurting himself by alienating his brand from its customer base and the rest of the online poker community for that matter. Despite his obvious business sense that has brought him this far, many do not believe this is the best decision for his company because of the far-reaching impact it may have on the cause to regulate online poker in the US.


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