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To say the people who have thrown their support behind Sheldon Adelson’s proposed online gambling ban have made a few gaffes is an understatement, but this past week the comments have gone from the ridiculous to the absurd.

Abboud’s (latest) online gambling gaffe

RAWA has taught me two things:

  1. The more you expose Sheldon Adelson’s proposed online gambling ban to the light of day the uglier it seems to get.
  2. Andy Abboud is good for at least one sound bite a month.

Up until now I’ve been overcautious when talking about RAWA, prefacing the word cronyism with words like “perceived” or “suspected,” but can there be any doubt that RAWA is the very definition of crony capitalism after  Andy Abboud’s statements to GamblingCompliance (article is behind a paywall) this past week?

Here is the most troublesome passage from the GamblingCompliance article:

“Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson is unlikely to accept exemptions for state lotteries and tribes in a bill to prohibit Internet gambling according to his top lobbyist Andy Abboud.”

It’s no secret who is behind RAWA, and it’s bad enough Adelson’s lobbyists wrote the bill, but the idea any potential amendments to a bill in Congress would have to be personally ok’ed by a private businessman should have the entire country worried, regardless of how you feel about online gambling.

I wasn’t aware we elected Sheldon Adelson to Congress and gave him blanket powers to decide how the laws of this country are written, I always thought that was the job of Congress.


A headline straight from The Onion

“Congressman hit with purse of Sheldon Adelson’s wife signs on to Adelson anti-online gaming bill”

The above is the actual headline that appeared in the Washington Post after Miriam Adelson accidentally knocked her purse off a ledge while waiting for Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver a speech in front of Congress. The purse struck a congressman and hilarity ensued.

Here is the timeline based on two Washington Post articles about the incident – one from March 3 and the other from March 5:

  • March 3: Mrs. Adelson drops her purse, which grazes Congressman Brad Ashford’s (D-NE) shoulder.
  • March 3: Ashford is asked about the slightly comical incident, and upon learning the purse belonged to Miriam Adelson quipped: ““I wish I’d opened the purse. Do you think she carries cash?” – According to reports there was nothing of value in the purse.
  • The purse is returned to Miriam Adelson and an Adelson friend tells the Post, “She [Miriam Adelson] wants to call or e-mail Ashford to apologize.”
  • March 5: In a follow-up story (the one with the sublime headline) we discover Representative Ashford is the latest cosponsor of RAWA – which he claims occurred before the purse incident.

Even though I disagree with RAWA supporters on every single issue that pertains to online gambling, I do have to give them credit for one thing: Keeping a straight face when discussing their allegiance to this bill.

The entire RAWA debate is starting to resemble political satire, and it’s not easy to keep a straight performance during an improv performance.

The RAWA Show is turning into the type of comedy I thought could only come from the mind of Mel Brooks.

At some point I just want to stand up during one of their tirades about seven year olds with stolen credit cards and the computer skills of Edward Snowden hacking their parents iPhones, and just say, “stop it, just stop it. You’re not fooling anyone.”


Luddites unite!

And then there is Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who is concerned that online gambling cannot be regulated, and worries that legalized online gambling will be available to residents of South Carolina – oddly, by not supporting regulation Senator Graham is actually making unregulated online poker and gambling readily available to South Carolina residents.

So what’s wrong with Graham’s position other than being uninformed?  Did I forget to mention Lindsey Graham recently admitted he’s never sent an E-Mail in an interview with Chuck Todd?

“I don’t email,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said. “You can have every email I’ve ever sent. I’ve never sent one.”

So here we have a sitting Senator of the United States (and a relatively young one at 59) who has been in Congress since 1995, and has never sent an E-Mail, yet he feels qualified to assess the risks of the Internet.

Seems legit.

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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+.