Meetings & Information


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

“Click your mouse and lose your house.”

Wealthy casino owner takes on Internet gambling

Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 4:10 pm
Internet gambling is illegal in Montana, but a 2011 legal opinion by the U.S. Department of Justice and the approval of Internet gambling by state governments in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey could be a harbinger of things to come.
An 80-year-old casino magnate worth $36.1 billion, however, is taking a stance against the spread of Internet gambling. Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp, ranked 11th wealthiest person in the world on the Forbes 400 list, has said he will spend “whatever it takes” to stop Internet gambling.

Adelson’s Coalition Against Internet Gambling is supported by Washington, D.C. lobbyists and public relations experts, along with some notable former elected officials. The group’s Web site is Their slogan is “Click your mouse and lose your house.”

Adelson outlined his opposition to Internet gambling in a June 2013 op-ed in Forbes.

“When gambling is available in every bedroom, every dorm and every office space, there will be no way to fully determine that each wager has been placed in a rational and consensual manner,” he said.

“For example, the possibility of underage children finding ways to place online wagers and the possibility of people betting under the influence of drugs or being coerced are all scenarios that can happen when the person is only monitored by their own computer screen.”

Supporters of Internet gambling are quick to point out that Adelson’s stand seems self-serving — online gambling conflicts with his own gambling interests, which derive about 85 percent of their revenue from casinos in Macau and Singapore.

Among his opponents are Caesar’s, Resorts International, Boyd Gaming Corp. and Station Casinos.

Several major hedge fund managers have chosen to invest in Internet gambling, including George Soros, John Paulson and Leon Cooperman.

The U.S. Department of Justice helped unleash Internet gambling with a December 2011 legal opinion. The department concluded that the Interstate Wire Act only prohibits Internet gambling on sporting events. That cleared the way for states to allow casino-type gambling online.

As currently operating, software programs called “geo-locators” are used to make sure gamblers are working at a computer in a state where Internet gambling is allowed. The software is said to be 100 percent accurate. Pay-outs can be made to an account set up at a casino or mailed to the gambler by check.

Internet gambling is strictly prohibited in Montana, and interest groups in Montana have stated their opposition to Internet gambling, including the Montana Tavern Association, the Gaming Industry Association and the Montana Coin-Machine Operators Association.

A January op-ed in the Tavern Times, which is endorsed by the Montana Tavern Association, notes that some operators in Montana’s gaming industry believe legalized Internet gambling is inevitable, and “a fight against it is fruitless.” On the other hand, Montana’s gambling culture is special, the Tavern Times said.

“Internet gambling could have devastating effects on brick-and-mortar gaming businesses here in Montana,” the op-ed said. “Our state’s gaming setup is unique — a system based on small operators owning or vending their own machines, under fairly strict state regulation.”

One Montana casino owner told the Tavern Times the casino was still feeling the impacts of the 2009 smoking ban and the economic recession that followed. Internet gambling would make those impacts seem minor, the owner said.

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