Gambling Fight

When illegal drug dealers fight, the guns come out and the bodies hit the floor. When the purveyors of legal vices do battle, the fights happen in legislatures and boardrooms. The Washington Post recently described an ongoing fight between supporters and opponents of online gambling – staring billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson, who made his bucks in Las Vegas casinos, is against Internet-based gambling. He’s been dumping money to make sure his opinions are heard. Adelson contributed more than $95 million to various political organizations and candidates in 2012, and it’s expected this will at least give him a loud voice at the table. In addition, he’s said to be creating a public service campaign to put his concerns about children accessing gambling if it goes online.

Currently, casinos can offer pseudo-online gaming to customers in their rooms, a type of inhouse network with things like video poker. Online gambling that extends further is not allowed.

Online betting is sometimes preferred by gamblers who wish anonymity or the convenience of playing from their homes. It also has a deeper reach – something other casino owners like – because someone could play wherever there is an Internet connection. As it stands now, you actually have to go where the gaming is happening, even if that just means down the street to a liquor store with a slot machine.

The danger, of course, is the same thing that makes it attractive – a serious lack of supervision. There’s no floor boss looking to see if an underage person has slipped past security, no monitoring of credit lines to spot problem gamblers and no one to throw out a gambler who is falling-down-drunk.

Expect to see Adelson’s group, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, early next year. Arrayed against this, all of the other major casinos are expected to mount counter-efforts. What form these will take wasn’t disclosed. It’s trickier to support gambling than to argue against it – even if you own a casino in Las Vegas.

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