OP ED: Overvaluing Our Industry Allowed Sheldon Adelson to Become a Threat

October 25, 2014
OP ED: Overvaluing Our Industry Allowed Sheldon Adelson to Become a Threat

When word started to spread around the poker community at the end of 2013 regarding Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, most instantly dismissed him as having no chance to make an impact on the iGaming world. I was among the select few that said that Adelson’s Coalition would be a hurdle that the industry would need to clear, and at the time, my stance was dismissed.

Fast forward a year and the industry is singing a different tune. Now instead of dismissing him, the PPA and others are rallying to try to stop passage of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act and the coalition that had no chance of making an impact is being viewed more and more as a threat.

Steve Ruddock recently penned a piece at Pokerupdate.com regarding why you should be paying attention to Adelson and his coalition and it is definitely worth the read. The fear among the industry now is that the RAWA will be pushed through sometime during the November Lame Duck session of Congress much in the way that the UIGEA was passed.

How did Adelson come out of nowhere to become a threat to the industry? I believe that some of us have overvalued our industry and the amount of support we really have to legalize the game.

As Ruddock pointed out in his piece, and a point I have made for years regarding poker legalization in general, many people in our country view online gambling as immoral, and that includes lawmakers.

Those of us that are in the industry see the benefit of the games, but anti-gambling activists are going to point to the negative side of gambling and that is the side that is going to win the hearts and minds of most people.

Also, talking about overvaluing our industry, states grossly overvalued online gambling. New Jersey and Nevada have both fell well short of revenue estimates and Delaware iGaming companies will not turn a profit for the first two years of their existence. Whether we chalk it up to inexperience, growing pains, or faulty forecasting, the fact remains that the industry hasn’t proved as profitable as we hoped.

Finally, we have clearly overvalued the support that we have at the Congressional level. We have had “supporters,” but how far has that “support” gotten us? A couple of bills that have went nowhere. A couple hearings that produced very little. Adelson comes along and not only has a bill in place, but has people on both sides of the issue making statements, issuing letters to congress, etc.

When the majority of the news and hype surrounding an online poker bill comes from the lobbyists paid to support an issue, that is not a sign of progress. Until we start seeing significant rumblings from Capitol Hill or the standard news medial analyzing, reporting or hyping an online gambling bill, we have no legitimate grounds on which to state that a bill is moving forward.

Adelson is getting reactions from both sides. He has people talking and he has people worried. Continue to dismiss him if you want, but doing so may result in your only form of online poker being Zynga Poker.

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