Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate and influential opponent of online gambling, died Jan. 12 at age 87. His legacy of opposition to internet casinos and online betting may continue for a while. But the popularity of casino and sport sites is likely to counter that opposition.
His passing may represent a change of eras in the Las Vegas casino and resort industry. Whether or not it changes the course of the online gambling industry, though, that’s another matter.
- Billionaire who campaigned against online gambling passed away
- Adelson was behind the Wire Act ruling and Black Friday
- He always fought the tide of internet betting popularity
Adelson’s Opposition to Online Gambling
Adelson built an empire through his Las Vegas Sands Corporation, founded in 1989. He gained notice in 2011 for opposing online gambling, ostensibly for its influence on vulnerable youth, but realistically for its threat to his land-based casinos.
He formed the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) in 2014. Additionally, Adelson’s CSIG lobbied Congress to amend the Interstate Wire Act to include all online gambling.
The original Wire Act was passed in 1961 to restrict sports gambling by telecommunication. The legislation’s goal was to curtail organized crime’s sports wagering activity. It was always perceived to pertain to sportsbooks only.
A new bill to amend the Act came in 2015 but never got out of committee. So, Adelson used another tactic by influencing the U.S. Justice Department to reinterpret the Wire Act in 2019 to include all online gambling. That decision still generates court battles to no avail.
Is There Hope For US Legal Online Gambling?
Internet wagering appears to be marching forward with or without Adelson. His CSIG may remain a powerful force. Still, they have failed to gain significant ground on the federal level with the Wire Act decision.
The organization is simply not big enough to counter moves to legalize online gambling in every state. Plus, there is little they can do about offshore sites, which now welcome millions of US gamblers.
Anti-gambling forces such as Adelson’s organization may concentrate efforts on conservative states, but the trend seems clear. Some form of online gambling is available in 14 states now, and at least a dozen others consider hosting sites.
Republican Party Influence
Adelson became politically active during the 1980s after feuding with labor unions for his Sands properties. He later became known as a supporter and generous donor to the Republican Party and various other conservative causes.
CSIG is only one of many conservative organizations to which Adelson contributed millions. He also backed the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush, Donald Trump, and hopeful candidate Mitt Romney.
Conservatives will miss Adelson’s active involvement even if he leaves behind a monetary legacy. Online gambling foes will probably miss their most passionate and vocal figure. However, it is not likely to affect the popularity or acceptance of real money online casino gaming.
On The Horizon For The US Industry
Sheldon Adelson was likely the most prominent opponent of US online gambling. His absence as a vocal and active force against the industry will leave a void.
In the end, popularity and potential for government revenue should continue the trend toward internet wagering.