When Sheldon Adelson took the stage at the 2014 Global Gaming Expo (G2E) to deliver the keynote adress on Wednesday evening he recieved a warm welcome from the assembled masses; people who represent every corner of the industry. One group that was not so enamored were the online gambling advocates. In the eyes of that crowd Sheldon Adelson is Public Enemy #1, and his remarks at G2E have cemented his hold on the #1 spot.
Adelson could have stood on the stage in side his Sands Convention Center and detailed how to turn lead into gold in your kitchen and the iGaming crowd would have ignored any word uttered until online gambling was brought up.
It took some time to be eventually and inevitably be brought up, as Adelson and his interviewer, Global Gaming Business’s Roger Gros, talked about his gaming properties in Macau, Las Vegas, and Pennsylvania, as well as future properties in Singapore and perhaps even in Northern New Jersey for the first 30 minutes or so.
However, once Adelson got rolling about online gambling, his passion intensified, and it’s becoming clearly evident this is not a whim or a passing fancy: Sheldon Adelson wants to ban online gambling.
Gros tried to rebut several of Adelson’s more anecdotal assertions, but it was clear that regardless of the facts or the legitimacy of the argument, Adelson was going to be dismissive of it, and was simply not having it.
More troublesome was the fact that a portion of the crowd agreed with him, as a not so small minority of the attendees applauded two of Adelson’s comments against online gambling.
Adelson first opined that his one and a half and three year old grandchildren are better at operating a computer/cell phone/tablet than he is, and repeatedly stated that kids will find a way around any safeguards put in place. Never even considering that his ignorance of technology doesn’t extend to the generation of adults that actually created it.
A second argument (the one that seemed to resonate the most with some in the crowd based on the applause) was that just because people are doing something doesn’t mean we should legalize it. Adelson specifically cited prostitution and hardcore recreational drugs like cocaine and heroin as examples.
Adelson also harped on protecting the vulnerable from online gambling, using his own parents as an example, but lost in this converation was the not so small matter of Adelson owning several casinos where people can freely gamble – and in the case of at least one of those casinos, Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, “kids” have found ways around the casino’s safeguards, no less than 26 times since 2010.
For those who see online gambling as a key part of the future, a neccesary piece of gaming’s growth, Adelson’s comments were anethma.
John Pappas of the PPA had this to say regarding Adelson’s speech, “Apparently Sheldon Adelson forgot that he owns casinos,” a clear nod to Adelson’s seemingly hypocritical opposition and defamation of one form of gambling while he is perfectly fine with providing another.
Pappas wasn’t the only person who took offense to Adelson’s iGaming comments , as Twitter lit up like a Christmas when Adelson’s iGaming comments began.
But for all of the opposition we also learned Sheldon has supporters in the gaming world, which means his arguments are resonating, and seems to be using the military strategy of continually testing iGaming’s lines looking for weaknesses.
This is a fight that is only going to grow more heated, especially as the rumored talk of iGaming legislation during the Lame Duck session after the 2014 elections gains steam.
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