Although many US business' big shots and casino moguls agree that internet poker should be legalized and are ready to invest in the industry as soon as legislation passes Congress, not everyone in the business share the same beliefs.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson has recently started an anti-poker campaign with the purpose of not letting internet poker become a legal and regulated activity.
Las Vegas Review Journal reports that the news of Adelson's intolerance towards online poker soon spread among the members of the US poker community which can become a huge headache for Adelson himself.
As soon as poker players learned about Adelson's efforts to prevent online poker from becoming a legal business, the internet was flooded with calls to boycott The Venetian – one of the biggest poker rooms in Vegas run by the Sands Corp.
The Poker Players Alliance quickly reacted to the issue as well. The PPA spokesperson Richard Muny told QuadJacks.com radio that the alliance encourages poker players all over the country to expose their opposition to Adelson's actions by tweeting it on The Venetian.
Marco Valerio, the host of the QuadJacks radio, said that messing with poker players is a very risky business and that a Vegas Casino owner should think twice as he might be playing with fire.
“You are dealing with a very sensitive community at this point,” Valerio said. “Recent advancements provided some encouragement, but now it's devastation again. The players know who's on their side and who isn't. They're very conscious of the influence they can exert when united. I think Mr. Adelson may have underestimated this.”
A few weeks ago Adelson went to Japan and Vietnam to promote his casino business and seek ways to make gambling legal in these markets. However, before going to Asia, the Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO visited Washington where he met with Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., and American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. and lobbied against the legalization of online poker.
During these meetings Adelson expressed his concerns about internet gambling not being able to cope with underage betting and that he's “morally opposed” to internet gaming.
However, the actual reason for Adelson's anti-online gambling mood might be quite the opposite of his “moral values.” The Sands Corp. owns an international brick and mortar casino business with $10 billion in yearly revenues, 80% of which is generated by its overseas properties in Macau and Singapore. The company is also ready to invest in a new casino site in Miami if the State of Florida decides to legalize gambling.
The fact is that Sands Corp. is so busy running their casino operations that they left out online gaming completely. A Pokerfuse.com writer and a poker pro Zach Tracy believes that with most of Adelson's competitors ready to dive into the online business as soon as it is approved by Congress, the Suns Corp. CEO is now trying to ruin their plans.
“He is in opposition because all of his industry ducks are not in a row yet to compete in a new market,” Tracy said. “I think he is trying to block competitors from getting a bill through.”
Although Adelson had his differences with the general gambling community in the past, some recent positive signs raised hope of Sands CEO going the right direction. Just two months ago, in October, the Sands Expo and Convention Center held the American Gaming Association-produced Global Gaming Expo for the first time.
In November Andelson was accepted into the Gaming Hall of Fame. Gary Loveman, Chairman of Caesars Entertainment Corp. and one of the strongest online poker promoters was the one to introduce Andelson during the ceremony.
However, none of this made the Sands Corp. Chairman's feelings toward online gaming any warmer. The general concern is that Adelson, who is a major Republican financial supporter may use his political power in order to sabotage online poker legislation in the House.
On the other hand, strong opposition against online gaming may have an opposite effect on Adelson's business as his current customers might not be happy with his efforts to prevent them from the ability to enjoy their favorite pastime online.