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Online Gambling Gold Rush: Adelson was Once Poised to Operate Web Casino

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Feb/18/2014
Online Gambling Gold Rush:  Adelson was Once Poised to Operate Web Casino

In a 2007 piece appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle, Thomas Somach wrote extensively on the potential for an Internet Gambling gold rush in the US where land-based casinos and even the likes of Disney could get into the fray.

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At the time it was all just a pipe dream.  Federal legislation had just passed essentially banning offshore companies from servicing those gamblers living in the US.

But casino operators like MGM were already discussing the prospects of running Web gambling sites from within the confines of Nevada as a handful of legislators looked to introduce bills regulating Internet gambling, among them former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank.

"We would do so as quickly as we could," MGM Mirage Senior Vice President Alan Feldman told the Chronicle at the time. "We would have it up and running within a year. And I have to believe that just about everyone will get involved at some level. All the major players."

And when asked by Somach who those major players in gambling might be, Feldman mentioned some interesting brands.

“All the major entertainment companies will get involved, too. Sony, Apple, Universal, Columbia, Time Warner. It just seems logical that at some point they would find their way into the industry."

Fast forward to 2013, a year when three states – Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey – finally legalized online gambling.  The casino sector almost unanimously has embraced the industry.

“Seven years ago I wrote this article for the San Francisco about how Vegas casinos would become a part of the Internet gambling landscape once it became legal,” Somach recounted to Gambling911.com.  “After the story came out, one of the local Las Vegas newspapers ran a story blasting my story and saying it would never happen.”

Well here we are nearly seven years later and it is happening.

“Vegas casinos wouldn't cannibalize themselves with Net gambling (back then),” he said of the media’s approach on the subject.  

Somach, who is also a reporter for Gambling911.com, suggested that many in the media at that time took a similar stance to that which is now held by Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson.  The billionaire casino mogul is dead set against legalization of real money Web gambling in the States.  He frequently cites concerns over underage gambling and the potential for money laundering.  In the end, it could all come down to Adelson’s fears that he might fail in the Internet casino arena whereas his more tech savvy competitors would have a leg up on the competition. 

This was illustrated clearly in the past week after all of the Sands Las Vegas websites fell victim to hacking.  The sites remained down for nearly a week while employee social security numbers had been compromised.  Similar hackings of big name Web properties have resulted in only hours-long downtime.

Adelson must not have always been against online gambling however.

When MGM’s Feldman was touting the prospect of US-based casino companies one day offering betting on the Net from the States and beyond, Adelson’s company had already set up an Internet gambling venture overseas.

Somach reported back then in the Chronicle:

The Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns the Venetian casino in Las Vegas, as well as other entities, announced plans last year to open an Internet casino in 2007 that would operate from the Channel Islands and service the United Kingdom only. It hasn't opened yet.

But now, with the potential new law, the company's attentions are turning toward the more lucrative U.S. market.

Adelson oversees a group that runs ads condemning online gambling as a “cancer to society” and a “national security threat” for Americans.

My how things have changed in the course of only seven years unless Adelson’s view back in 2007 was “To Hell With The Brits!”

Let them all die of cancer and have terrorists proliferate that nation with their money laundering activity through regulated online gambling websites like…well….The Sands Las Vegas.

Probably not his mindset since we suspect British tourists spend plenty annually at his various casino properties.    

One has to question why Adelson now believes, what was good for the United Kingdom back in 2007, is now bad for Americans.

- Chris Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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