Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling may have picked up a major victory in their goal of blocking iGaming legislation. The American Gaming Association has now officially withdrawn their support of online gambling due to divisions among major casinos.
As reported earlier today by CNBC, AGA Chief Executive Geoff Freeman has concluded that iGaming is “an issue that the association cannot lead on” due to the vast differences of opinions on the matter. He continued, “One of the things I’ve learned in this industry is we are extraordinarily competent at shooting at one another. The snipers in this industry are of the highest quality, and if you let that be the focus, we’ll kill each other.”
Many in the industry have wondered how the AGA could have supported online poker and iGaming when some of its members have been working to ban it. Sheldon Adelson’s coalition has been actively attacking online gambling while the MGM and Caesars have backed the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection.
As expected, the Poker Players Alliance spin doctors have come out to downplay this move by the AGA. Talking with PokerNews, PPA Executive Director John Pappas said that the move was not a shock based on recent activity. He said, “I think they’ve really scaled back on activity for some time now, it’s just now becoming public that they scaled back on activity.”
“There’s been some other stories that the AGA is taking a neutral position now because of the split, mostly with Sands. Obviously, when reported in the Wall Street Journal it becomes a bigger story.”
With the AGA taking a step back, Pappas believes that other organizations can pick up the slack. He stated, “What we’ll have is other organizations coming in to fill the void that can be laser focused on internet gaming, like the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection. Obviously, the PPA will always be there, and I think individual casino companies will continue playing a major role in lobbying and funding efforts to see legalized internet poker.”
Despite PPA claims that this news is not a big deal, the AGA backing out can is huge for Adelson’s coalition. While the AGA did not reverse their position on the matter, the fact that the major industry group for the nations casinos has stepped away from the issue cannot be overlooked.
The AGA’s decision to step away highlights the major division in our industry over the matter. With progress towards Federal legislation at nearly a standstill and progress at the state level currently crawling, how can the removal of a major lobbying body be taken lightly?