Steve Wynn calls US federal online poker law debate “a waste of breath”


steve-wynn-federal-online-pokerSteve Wynn is on a roll. The CEO of casino operator Wynn Resorts has won another legal skirmish related to his ongoing fight with Universal Entertainment chairman (and former BFF) Kazuo Okada, after a Nevada judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against Wynn by the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System. The Louisiana lawmen hold Wynn stock in their portfolio, and they filed a shareholder derivative action in March that questioned the legality of (a) Wynn’s controversial $135m donation to the University of Macau, and (b) the forced redemption of Okada’s 20% stake in Wynn after the company claimed Okada had been improperly cozy with Asian gaming regulators. But on Tuesday, US District Judge James Mahan tossed the suit after Louisiana’s Keystone Kops missed an Oct. 1 deadline to respond to Wynn’s motion to dismiss the suit. Also dismissed: the coppers’ request to shift the legal proceedings to a local Dunkin Donuts.

Earlier this week, Steve Wynn accepted Las Vegas journalist Jon Ralston’s invitation to appear on his TV show, Ralston Reports. When Wynn wasn’t obliquely suggesting that President Barack Obama could have been the second shooter in Dealey Plaza, he also weighed in on an issue near and dear to most Nevada casino operators – the prospects of online poker being regulated at the federal level this year. “I think the bill that [Senate majority leader] Harry Reid has been working on, in and of itself, is intelligent. First of all, it stops other forms of gaming and makes them specifically prohibited on the internet, but it does allow poker, which is an American game … So I think Harry is right on the bill. I think the people who are in favor of the bill have an intelligent position.”

So does that mean Las Vegas Sands’ CEO Sheldon Adelson – who has not been shy about staking out an anti-online-gambling position – is, um, not intelligent? “Sheldon is opposed to it for reasons that he believes in that have to do with young children and other things like that. Sheldon says ‘I don’t know why it’s good for Nevada. There’s going to be kids … If there’s any abuse, they’ll punish us all.’ He’s fearful of secondary consequences.” As for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s similarly anti-online gambling public stance, Wynn says it’s of no consequence. “No one’s going to make gambling illegal. It’s a state issue.” (Steve appears to have already forgotten the earlier portion of his interview, in which he noted that Reid’s bill makes pretty much anything not poker or horse racing unquestionably illegal online, but whatever.)

While Steve respects Adelson’s concerns, he doesn’t agree with Adelson’s stance that online gambling would hurt brick and mortar casinos’ bottom lines. “I don’t feel threatened by the internet. I think that people who come to Las Vegas come for a total experience. I think playing poker on the internet is something they’re doing anyway. They’ve been doing it for years… Illegally, legally, I don’t know… But I think the debate is by and large a waste of breath at this point. I don’t think [the bill] has the legs to get through the House of Representatives at this moment. I think the amount of problems facing our government in Washington are so much more severe, that have such a greater priority for the welfare of working people in America.”