Deconstructing Sheldon Adelson’s Argument against Online Gaming
In yesterday’s Las Vegas Sun, Oskar Garcia wrote an article about the legalization of online poker. The article centers around Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and his opposition to online gambling. As the article states, Adelson has said he opposes the legalization of any online gaming, including poker. But what is supposedly his reasoning for opposing online gaming? He’s worried that under-age kids would be able to play, as the internet hasn’t proven to be able to be age restrictive.
I understand his point. After all, the internet has done a poor job of limiting age-appropriate content to adults, including pornography and alcohol websites. There’s no reason to think that online poker companies would somehow be able to do any better at confirming a player’s age. That being said, I have to believe that Adelson’s opposition to online gaming has to go deeper than that.
Online gambling is a slippery slope, and legalizing poker can be viewed as the gateway. Poker is the first step because the player isn’t playing against the house. He’s playing against another player. But it’s easy to make the connection that once people are comfortable wagering money online, they would quickly be comfortable enough to play online games with a house edge, basically creating an online casino.
I have to believe this is more likely why Adelson doesn’t want online gaming. If people can gamble every time they turn on their computers, there’s a concern that it would impact the casinos. I challenge this argument as gambling in a casino is an experience. And while there is a thrill of winning, it’s also about social interaction. I don’t think gambling by yourself in front of a monitor would create the same feeling, and I think people would still want to go to casinos to play.
But if I owned a casino, I would probably be nervous about online gaming too. Las Vegas Sands as a company is doing well, but more on the strength of their Asian gaming than on Las Vegas. With that being the trend, it’s understandable that any casino executive would be nervous about losing that business. This is why MGM and Caesars are jumping on the Online Gambling bandwagon and support letting established casinos offer online poker. It’ll be interesting to see if Sands will do the same, even after hearing Adelson’s moral argument.
(ED: Venetian and Palazzo were the first casinos to have had mobile gaming units in Las Vegas. There’s definitely more to this than worry about children gambling. If that was the case, he would have had the units removed from the Venetian premises when gaming was legalized in hotel rooms. I have to think he’s just trying to stall the legalization so LVS can catch up to the competition and not just lease Cantor Gaming’s technology, which may be the smart move in the long run.)