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Have you written off Sheldon Adelson and his crusade to end the scourge of online gambling as nothing more than the whim of a rich old man? Do you think an online gambling ban has little chance of having any real world success?

If you feel this way, you may want to reconsider your position.

Here are five reasons you should be taking Sheldon Adelson and his online gambling ban seriously.

Reason #1: His arguments resonate

Conjecture, bending the truth, misdirection, omission, unrealistic hypothetical’s, and other tactics have certainly been employed by the anti-online gambling crowd when they make their case against online gambling, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t listening.

Let’s not forget that gambling is still somewhat taboo and filed under either “Sin” or “Vice” by most people.

People who follow iGaming may be able to punch holes in these arguments all day long, but when the average person reads or hears the Adelson/CSIG rhetoric it makes perfect sense to them, and they’re unlikely to spend the time and energy looking up the facts to debunk these statements.

Case in point, when former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb penned an op-ed and stated that African Americans are “nearly twice as likely to be ‘disordered gamblers’ compared to the white population,” I had to go find the original study (which wasn’t the easiest thing to locate), read through it to find the caveats and explanations of the terms and methodology, and this still wasn’t enough to debunk Webb’s statement, it was only enough to offer a different, more thorough interpretation of the data.

Make no mistake about it, the simply stated rhetoric being used by the anti-online gambling crowd is getting through.

Reason #2: He’s surrounded by very smart people

First off, Sheldon Adelson is a very smart, strategic, and successful man. And on top of that he is surrounded by a cadre of very smart, strategic, and successful people.

We’re not dealing with a Don Quixote type; Sheldon Adelson and Las Vegas Sands employ some of the top minds in the gaming industry.

In this sense, I feel as if a lot of people advocating for legalized online gambling are underestimating not only Adelson, but the people he surrounds himself with.

Sure, some of his talking heads have stumbled over themselves, but if you pay really close attention you’ll notice they learn from these mistakes very quickly, and are adept at fine-tuning their arguments.

To truly understand the headway Adelson and his allies are making, just look at the results their anti-online gambling vendetta has produced.

From the numerous op-eds in mainstream papers to letters from several prominent governors – Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Rick Perry, Mike Pence – the Adelson message machine has been doing an admirable job, far better than our side.

Reason #3: He is passionate about this issue

During his G2E keynote address (see video below), Adelson’s passion regarding this issue was on display. Whether you believe his stated motivations or feel there is some ulterior motive at work, there is no denying the passion he brings to the online gambling debate.

However you slice it, this is not some random policy that he will lose interest in, and for the foreseeable future we are going to have address this.

Reason #4: He has the money

With a net worth of $32.3 billion, Adelson ranks #9 on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people. Essentially, Sheldon Adelson has what amounts to an infinite amount of resources to pour into this issue.

Let’s not forget this is the man who wrote check after check (totaling $50 million) to Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign in 2012, and then turned around and poured a similar amount of money into the coffers of Gingrich’s chief rival in the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney, the man Adelson’s money was spent tearing down.

Who on our side is going to throw $100 million into this fight without batting an eye?

Reason #5: So far he’s winning

This is debatable, and perhaps making progress is a better term than “winning,” but consider that after announcing his public campaign against online gambling in late 2013 it took Adelson just a few months to get legislation introduced into Congress in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and now there is talk of a potential “November Surprise” not unlike UIGEA passage in 2006.

Or how about the simple fact that not a single online gaming bill has even come up for a vote since Adelson ramped up his efforts. How much of the stalled legislative efforts in California and elsewhere can be pinned on CSIG is unclear (the way Fabian Nunez stated it, CSIG was instrumental in derailing California’s online poker bill in 2014), but dismissing their involvement would be a major mistake.



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Steve Ruddock

Steve is veteran of the the poker industry, first as a player and now as a writer focusing mainly on the regulated U.S. markets and the politics of poker. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveRuddock and at Google+.