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The US Land Casino Versus Online Gambling Debate

By: Fabian Rictor, Wednesday June 26th 2013
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Even as the legalization of online gambling is gathering momentum in America, particularly in the states, there are still some personalities that want the activity banned under federal law. The most vocal of these is Las Vegas Sands gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson. In a very recent article written for the Forbes business magazine he used the cliché “click your mouse and lose your house” to appeal to US lawmakers to declare online gambling illegal. Adelson claimed that the spread of online gambling would lead to the loss of jobs in land casinos. He cited that the growth of online gambling in Europe has resulted in a 20% decrease in visits to land casinos. Adelson lists the other standard arguments against online gambling such as the inability to exclude underage, problem or intoxicated gamblers with certainty.

There was immediate rebuttal to Adelson’s article from various sources. These were compiled in an article published by ABC News. California attorney Martin D. Owens called Adelson’s views “preposterous”. Explaining why the online gaming boom has been accompanied by a decrease in land casino attendance in Europe, Owens said that young people now do everything online, and that includes gambling. He sarcastically added, “Nobody drives an Oldsmobile anymore, either.” Owens referred to a study on problem gambling conducted by the reputed Harvard Medical School based on a sample size of 40,000. The conclusions of this study were that an overwhelming majority of online gamblers played moderately and spent minimal amounts on gaming.

Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas was another online gambling proponent that challenged Adelson. Pappas said that all the alleged evils listed by Adelson are being addressed by the European Internet gambling operators with greater oversight and regulation than what is available in land casinos. “Age-verification? Protecting problem gamblers? Those can be addressed on the Internet even better than in one of Mr. Adelson’s casinos,” wrote Pappas. He went on to explain that in online gambling every action by every player can be tracked in real time, which is “a regulator’s dream”. Pappas further argued that almost every other land casino owner considered online gambling as a complementary offering. The real problem according to Pappas was not online gambling but Adelson’s lack of understanding of online gambling. The ABC News article reported that there was widespread anger and criticism within the industry and player communities against Adelson, leading to calls for a boycott against his land casinos.

32 American states already allow online betting on horse racing. Three states have legalized certain online gambling verticals. Nevada will allow only online poker, whereas New Jersey will allow online casinos as well. Further, New Jersey is fighting to legalize sports betting. Clearly people like Adelson are exhibiting death throes.

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