Sheldon Adelson has been earning himself a lot of ink with his relatively new Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.
But will his mission to wipe regulated online betting from the face of the United States succeed?
Here’s a look at 8 things that could happen if it does.
Pretty much anyone can sign up at one of the unregulated online poker sites currently operating in the US. These sites don’t require any form of ID or a social security number, and they don’t run player verification or geolocation checks.
For a more in-depth look at the signup process at regulated and unregulated online poker rooms you can read this article.
Now, let me ask you what should be a very simple question: if you were going to launder money which would you prefer, the site that forces you to identify yourself or the site on which you can simply pretend to be anyone you want?
And if you think laundering money would be easy in a completely unregulated industry, just think about how easy it would be for a minor to sign up at an online poker site that doesn’t require any type of age verification beyond clicking a box that says you are over 21!
One of the highfalutin talking points Sheldon Adelson and his CSIG group like to throw around is “predatory gambling,” a term that is little more than what the late great George Carlin would call, “OOOH, spooky language!”
Apparently Adelson and his cronies feel the best way to protect problem gamblers is to leave them to their own devices, and not let them play at regulated sites that are required to report problem gambling behaviors.
“The governor recommended extending existing prohibitions on casino-related employment for state workers and others with conflicts of interest, increasing funds for programs that treat compulsive gambling, and requiring elected state officials to disclose current and former connections to companies seeking online gaming licenses.”
If Adelson considers the regulated and licensed online poker rooms to be predators, like a puma or leopard, then unregulated sites are like velociraptors and tyrannosaurs.
With no legitimate regulation in place, and no one to hold providers accountable, players will remain at the mercy of offshore sites that have already done a wonderful job of screwing us over on multiple occasions.
Without real regulations and oversight in place you can pretty much guarantee that the poker world will deal with another Ultimate Bet, Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker, or any of the other smaller sites that have run off with our money or are in the process of doing so.
The bottom line is this: if Sheldon Adelson gets his way you can say goodbye to consumer protections and holding the providers accountable.
Poker in the US – and the thousands of jobs and millions in economic activity that it generates – will enter a very dark time that will put the aftermath of UIGEA and Black Friday to shame.
It may not be enough to have an impact on the unemployment rate, but online poker sites are creating more jobs than you think.
Not only does the industry require IT and software people, marketing, advertising and salespeople, but think about all of the ancillary jobs for web developers, bloggers/writers (like yours truly), and affiliates that are also seeing new streams of revenue thanks to the newly regulated markets.
Furthermore, as John Mehaffey of USPoker.com mentioned recently, a well-written federal bill could easily demand all customer service and other jobs be filled by US residents rather than be outsourced overseas.
Succinctly put, if Sheldon Adelson gets his way the US economy loses jobs.
Licensing fees, tax revenue, taxes gleaned from the new jobs created (see above), additional economic stimulus as online poker providers hire outside vendors and liberally spend on marketing and advertising… POOF!
All gone, just like that if a federal ban on online gambling is passed.
Additionally, valuable resources will be spent prosecuting black market online gambling providers instead of just letting them wither and die on the vine as players switch to licensed providers.
At the end of the day, when millions of dollars have been wasted on this fight, Sheldon Adelson, win or lose, will still be one of the richest men in the world.
Perhaps the old adage of, “he has more money than he could ever spend” is literally true in Adelson’s case.
Perhaps this fight, and his other recent exploits of setting money on fire, are just Adelson’s way of buying the latest infomercial product?
Now that I think about it, Adelson’s proposed $100 million spending spree on a hopeless effort to stop online gambling is like that time I bought that little stick that was supposed to eliminate clothing stains – it did work, but it also eliminated any color it came into contact with and I had to throw away my prized polo sweater which is about as traumatic an experience as a high school kid could suffer.