Sheldon Adelson is planning an escalated attack against online poker and casino games. The situation is bringing proponents of iGaming together to defend the industry. There is no reason to panic. There are many reasons that this attempt to lobby against online gaming may fail.
Do Not React with Emotion
Players need to understand one point before doing anything. Sheldon Adelson is entitled to his opinion and has every right to speak it, no matter how unpopular it is within the online poker industry. He also has the right to lobby that position.
This is not the time to hurl obscenities and insults at Adelson and Las Vegas Sands just because you disagree with him. No intelligent debate was ever won that way. There is no reason to lash out at Venetian social media accounts either. The employees that operate the Venetian Twitter and Facebook accounts are not going to convince Adelson and his company’s management team to change sides.
This battle will be won through the exchange of ideas and facts, not with anger.
Suggestions to Express Online Poker Support
It is time to have an educated discussion with lawmakers that represent you. I feel starting at the state level is best. State lawmakers often take the time to consider feedback from their constituents and respond to concerns personally.
Start the letter with why you are initiating the contact. Keep all emotions out of it. Present your position and link to relevant articles about it. Make several educated points about why you feel online poker should be regulated.
The most common positions used by iGaming proponents include the creation of jobs, freedom of the Internet and tax revenue. There could be other reasons from your personal point of view. Make sure to include these as it may set your letter apart from the form letters lawmakers often receive. It is important to make the points in a concise and educated manner.
State lawmakers will likely respond with their position and why they agree or disagree with you. If they appear to be on the fence then a follow up response may be in order.
Keep in mind that lawmakers are not likely to be as educated as players are about online poker. This may be your chance to explain the industry to them. Do not ruin that opportunity with personal attacks on your opponent. It will hurt your cause.
Everybody in the U.S. has three members of Congress that represent them. Contact all three with your position on the issue and ask for a response that includes their stance. This site helps constituents locate their representative and senators.
There are many lobbying groups that are online poker proponents. The most well known is probably the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). The PPA is quoted in many mainstream articles for this reason. The PPA offers help with the legislative effort to legalize online poker and helps fight the anti-poker lobby.
Adelson Lobbying Potentially Fruitless
Sheldon Adelson has a massive bankroll to fund his effort but that does not mean he will prevail. It is easy to point to the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign in 2012 as a political situation where Adelson spent millions and lost. It goes beyond that.
Adelson may not have significant pull at the state level where it seems iGaming will be decided. It will take a major lobbying effort in state legislatures to even be heard.
Horse racing, casinos and lotteries have major voices in their state legislatures. If these groups did not have powerful lobbies they would not have gotten their business legalized in the first place.
State lawmakers are more likely to listen to business interests located within their state than interstate lobbyists.
If a state’s horse racing industry fails or gaming taxes fall short of expectations then politicians have to answer to their constituents at the ballot box. The out of state interest groups may have moved on to the next fight by then and politicians likely understand this.
A federal effort to prevent states from regulating online gaming may have fierce opposition. In 2012, the National Governors Association opposed language in the Reid/Kyl bill that would have denied states the right to regulate online casino games. Governors and lotteries will not be quick to support a federal law that takes their perceived rights away and will voice that position to their state’s congressmen.
Relevance of New Jersey Sports Betting Case
New Jersey’s fight to legalize sports betting is an example of states that have no interest in a specific outcome joining a fight to preserve states’ rights. Georgia, Kansas, Virginia and West Virginia filed a “friend of the court” brief to show support for New Jersey’s fight to legalize sports betting. These four states did not join the battle because they want to regulate sports betting. These states wanted their voices heard in a situation where they felt that the right to self regulate is being violated by federal law.
While the case in New Jersey is related to sports betting, it should be of interest to online poker players. A Supreme Court ruling in favor of New Jersey could have an impact on other forms of federal legislation, including any attempts to regulate or quash state online gaming industries.
Get Involved in the Political Process
Adelson is no more of an opponent to online poker than an anti-gambling politician that is already in office. That side just has a voice with deep pockets. There is just as powerful of a lobby on the pro-gaming side of the aisle. Casino companies hoping to expand to the Internet are not going to sit quietly on the sidelines. They have too much to lose.
Assuming an automatic defeat is what got the online poker industry where it is now. It is time for U.S. online poker players to exercise their right to petition and have their voices heard. It is never too late.