Odd Political Bedfellows Try to Keep Online Gambling Illegal

It’s been said that politics makes for odd bedfellows. An alliance between one of the Republican party’s biggest donors and a former Democratic Senator from Arkansas proves this adage true once again.

GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Sands casino empire and the 11th wealthiest man in America, is fighting tooth-and-nail to keep online gambling illegal. Adelson claims that wagering online is bad for society and could put traditional casinos (like his) out of business.

As part of this effort, the Sands Corporation recently hired the Lincoln Policy Group. Company founder and former Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln and her ex-chief of staff Robert Holifield will work personally on the account. This is proof that Adelson believes it’s a critical juncture in the online vs. offline gaming battle.

In a June 2013 interview with Bloomberg TV, he claimed that online gaming is a “train wreck and a cancer.” Watch the video below to hear his argument and judge for yourself:

A government ruling on Internet commerce – and legalization of online gambling in three states – has triggered a sense of urgency from the casino magnate.

A December 2011 Department of Justice ruling declared that online gambling transactions are legal between states where online gambling is legal within another state. Delaware and Nevada only allow online poker, while New Jersey allows a full range of casino games – but only if a player is within the boundaries of the state. Advanced technology can locate the IP address (and physical location) of a player’s computer to enforce this law.

Because of this chain of events, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is expected to introduce a bill in the Senate to ban online gaming, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is prepared to introduce a similar bill in the House.

It appears that online gaming will eventually become legal in at least several states in the future. Especially those with larger, more urban and suburban populations. Many of these larger states are in poor fiscal condition and the tax revenue from online gaming could be too tempting to turn down.

Whether you agree with the moral or ethical challenges with online gambling, this effort by Adelson and Lincoln appears to be nothing more than old-fashioned protectionist politics. It’s another example how government today is both of and for big companies and special interests instead of “we the people.”