Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn Are Un-American Sore Losers

These two are making and spending millions to make sure you can’t

The poker community is an interesting bunch of people.

If you scan the forums, sites, and social media covering the industry, you’ll see righteous indignation and keyboard warriors pounding people like Jay Newnum, Erick Lindgren, Joe Sebok, and others into a virtual pulp on a regular basis.

Uncle SamThe people who have been the scourge of the community certainly deserve some criticism, but the poker mobs would be better served directing their anger elsewhere.

Two prominent gaming industry legends are actively trying to kill employment opportunities and keep the mass population from doing something they want to do — and get almost a free pass from the public for it.

Sheldon Adelson (chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation) and Steve Wynn (chairman and chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts), leaders of the two most successful Las Vegas gaming companies, deserve your outrage. And they deserve it a lot more than people most of the poker community focuses on.

Adelson and Wynn are doing whatever it takes to block online gaming from happening in the U.S.

Adelson and Wynn’s stance against online gaming is more than just two “get off my lawn” dinosaurs not “getting” the Internet. Their multi-million-dollar lobbying attempt to block the spread of iGaming is hypocritical, whiny, pathetic, and self-serving.

They know the train has left the station. They missed it. So now they just want to blow up the track.

For two staunch Republicans, what Adelson and Wynn are trying to do in opposing online poker is unpatriotic, un-American, and pathetic.

And you’re not mad enough about it.

Depending on which estimates and reports you read, anywhere from more than 10,000 high-tech jobs to more than 35,000 total U.S. jobs would be created from fully regulating online poker and gaming (we believe it is closer to the AGA’s 10,000 figure). Most of these would be high wage-earning jobs. Many would be created in economically depressed states like Nevada, New Jersey, and California.

Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn oppose this.

Online poker is legislated, taxed, regulated, and making money for governments in democratic societies across the globe without leading to the disintegration of those countries’ collective moral fibers. Yes, online gaming is helping create revenue streams for governments that need the money.

Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn oppose this.

If you believe they solely oppose it for moral issues, then maybe you’ve been smoking too much of that good stuff in Colorado.

They oppose it because their competition in Vegas — the Caesars, Fertittas and MGMs of the world — beat them to the punch and can make up some of the financial ground that they’ve lost to Adelson and Wynn’s wildly successful land-based operations.

So instead of embracing competition, they’re trying to block it. Instead of helping create jobs and tax revenue for the government, they’re spending millions to oppose it.

It’s the most unpatriotic, un-American behavior we can think of. And the poker community, from the $1-2 grinders to the executives at Caesars, MGM, and Stations, are just sitting on their hands, doing and saying nothing to stand in their way.

Their self-serving opposition is strikingly similar to the Betamax case (or more formally known as Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.) that made its way to the Supreme Court exactly 30 years ago. The two biggest studios in Hollywood at the time — Disney and Universal — sued Sony to block the new technology of beta tapes from hitting the market. Their “logic” for doing so, they claimed, was that the ability to record programs would hurt their businesses. When the case got to the Supreme Court, Universal and Disney lost, and porn producers around the globe drank champagne in celebration. Oh, and betas flourished. Fast forward a few decades — beta tapes opened the door for the proliferation of VCRs, then DVDs, and a home entertainment revolution took place. Ironically, the home entertainment business turned out to be one of the largest cash cows for Universal and Disney for years.

What Universal and Disney did is almost exactly what Adelson and Wynn are trying to do … iiiifffff Disney had originally been partners with Sony.

If you recall, just a few years ago, Steve Wynn embraced online poker. He was ahead of the curve, forming a partnership with PokerStars (and, if you’ve forgotten, after Black Friday, Wynn Resorts was even exploring acquiring bwin.party).

Wynn told Forbes online at the time:

“We are convinced that the lack of regulation of internet gaming within the US must change. We must recognize that this activity is occurring and that law enforcement does not have the tools to stop it.”

 This, after meeting personally with PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg on a boat in the Mediterranean (Wynn’s boat, no less). Scheinberg convinced Wynn over the ensuing months to dig deeper into PokerStars’ operations. Wynn, who was not a savvy tech user at the time, was reportedly floored. Wynn even applauded the safeguards PokerStars had in place to protect customers.

 Said Wynn to Forbes online:

“I only had misconceptions, I had no idea on a number of issues … They are highly regulated [in Europe] … One of my concerns was about young people playing. It turns out they have more control about young people playing than we do.”

When Black Friday happened and that partnership went away, Wynn was slow to re-embrace the online gaming movement. He got lapped. And now he’s joining his friend Adelson to make sure if he can’t play, then nobody can.

Last year, Adelson, who is the 11th richest man in America and was Mitt Romney’s single largest campaign donor during the 2012 elections, launched the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which, um, was formed to stop Internet gambling. His quotes, from a Forbes online article by Nathan Vardi, tell you everything you need to know.

“I am willing to spend whatever it takes My moral standard compels me to speak out on this issue because I am the largest company by far in the industry and I am willing to speak out. I don’t see any compelling reason for the government to allow people to gamble on the Internet and nobody has ever explained except for the two companies whose special interest is going to be served if there is gaming on the Internet, Caesars and MGM.”

 Let’s break down Adelson’s bullshit.

First, Adelson delineating his moral compass between online gaming and brick and mortar gaming is absurd. Properly regulated online gaming — just as his buddy Steve Wynn pointed out a few years earlier — has just as many safeguards, if not more, than brick and mortars. Go to any downtown Las Vegas casino during the day and you’ll see the poorest of the poor squandering their last pennies on slots that they have little chance of winning. Go to any Midwestern casino during the week and see buses — literally busloads of retirees the casinos pay to have driven in — blowing their monthly pensions and social security payments doing the same.

And that’s better than regulated online gaming?

Adelson says, “I am the largest company by far in the industry…” Read between the lines there and he’s saying he’s the largest gaming entity — and he wants to stay that way and not be overtaken by other players.

And who could ramp up their profits and make Adelson NOT the largest entity? He names two right there — MGM and Wynn.

How are their special interests any different than Adelson’s? They’re not.

What Adelson and Wynn are attempting is a lot worse than stealing tips with chopsticks or not paying some fantasy football dues. They’re trying to kill jobs, revenue, and a recreational activity the rest of the world enjoys.

Think about that before you book a dinner at Red 8, place a bet at the Lagasse Sports Book, or play $2-5 NLH at Venetian.

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March 2014