Last week brought confirmation that the anti-online gambling war being waged by Las Vegas Sands’ chairman Sheldon Adelson (pictured inset right, just back from the UK) will be prosecuted across all fronts. This young year has already witnessed the debut of Adelson-backed federal legislation to ‘fix’ the Wire Act, but on Friday, Andy Abboud, Adelson’s VP of Talking to Politicians, told Nevada journalist Jon Ralston that Adelson was actively preparing to “block legalization state by state.”
Abboud said Adelson’s wallet was “prepared to mount full campaigns in every state” that dares introduce legislation to enact an intrastate online gambling regime. Adelbucks will also be bankrolling “education” to discourage the introduction of such bills in the first place. Finally, Abboud dipped deep into his dark ages dictionary by declaring that Adelson’s minions were out to equate online gambling with “the plague.”
Abboud is scheduled to publicly debate online gambling’s merits – or lack thereof – with Mitch Garber, CEO of Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE), at this year’s iGaming North America Conference (iGNA). World Poker Tour founder Steve Lipscomb will moderate the “Is iGaming the Problem or the Solution?” showdown at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on March 19. Third, most of the Adelson/Abboud arguments are downright daffy.
The early money believes Abboud is in for a drubbing. First, the venue is the one brick-and-mortar casino CIE was allowed to take along when it was spun off from Caesars Entertainment last year, so Garber gets home turf. Second, Abboud is coming off a roundly mocked performance during December’s House of Representatives Subcommittee hearing, at which he called online gambling a menace to society then failed to deflect allegations of hypocrisy when asked why Sands allowed mobile gambling at the Venetian courtesy of CG Technology (formerly Cantor Gaming).
Regardless, it promises to be the closest thing to bloodsport this industry has produced since those Runner, Runner alligators and will likely be a hot ticket at iGNA. CalvinAyre.com recognizes that many of you can’t afford to make the trek to Vegas to witness the hair-pulling, eye-gouging and groin shots with your own eyes, so we fired up our time machine over the weekend, attended the debate then returned to this linear position in the time-space continuum to reveal what went down. (We also know who won the Super Bowl, but we can’t say who for fear of moving the line. That said, bet the farm on a second-quarter safety.)
LAS VEGAS, MARCH 19, 2014
The iGNA crowd buzzes with anticipation as moderator Lipscomb sits center stage, flanked by two podiums. Garber stands at one podium; the other is unoccupied.
LIPSCOMB: It appears Mr. Abboud has been detained, so unfortunately we may have to cancel the…
All eyes shift to stage left as a motorized wheelchair roars out from behind the curtain, coming to a halt beside the empty podium. In the chair sits a figure looking very much like Sheldon Adelson wearing a surgical mask.
ADELSON: Abboud wasn’t detained. I just couldn’t run the risk of him screwing up again. If you want something done right, do it yourself, so let’s do this already.
LIPSCOMB: Mr. Adelson, is there a reason you’re wearing a surgical mask?
ADELSON: (pointing at Garber) Because online gambling is a plague and I don’t intend to catch it from getting too close to Plague Boy over there.
GARBER: Really, Mr. Adelson? Is your argument so weak that you’re resorting to prop comedy?
ADELSON: Garber, you of all people should know this is no joke. Constant exposure to online gambling has stunted your growth so much that pretty soon you’re going to stop qualifying to ride on rollercoasters.
LIPSCOMB: Gentlemen, if we could keep this focused on the issues…
ADELSON: Fine. I don’t want kids addicted to online gambling. Everything that comes into the house via digital means is addictive. Like I told Bloomberg, I’ve got two teenage boys addicted to TV. Even worse, lousy TV. I mean, why all the fuss over this Girls program? Seinfeld was also about nothing, but at least it was funny.
GARBER: I’m actually a big fan of The Walking Dead.
ADELSON: (snorting) See a lot of parallels with Caesars, do ya?
LIPSCOMB: I think we’re getting a little off track…
ADELSON: The point is, Internet technology is still too wonky to guarantee kids won’t find a way to gamble online. Every time I turn on the news there’s some 16-year-old Nickleodeon actress whose Schmitter account was hacked and now everyone can see pictures of her dry humping a fire hydrant or something.
GARBER: We’ve yet to uncover a single case of an underage participant accessing our online gambling services in either Nevada or New Jersey. And our geolocation technology is ensuring that no out-of-state participants are getting through.
ADELSON: Your own geolocation stats show 5% false positives. If you can’t say for sure where these people are, how could you know how old they are?
GARBER: Mr. Adelson is deliberately confusing two types of technologies. Anyway, our geolocation services are improving every day.
ADELSON: The hell they are. Caesars can’t even geolocate profits. They’re so desperate for cash, if it had been Caesars accountants instead of Caesars plumbers who’d found that $2.7m of Borgata chips in Harrah’s toilets, they’d have kept it.
GARBER: All the social safeguard issues Sheldon has detailed can be dealt with as effectively – if not more effectively – online than at brick-and-mortar casinos.
ADELSON: Well, sure, provided you set the bar as low as Caesars does. That’s why Nevada fined you $100k for letting kids gamble and drink at your casinos.
GARBER: You mean like Pennsylvania fined you $56k for letting minors do the same at Sands Bethlehem?
ADELSON: That was an isolated incident, but Nevada described your serving up kiddie cocktails as “a pattern of abuse.” I bet the Garber house hands out pot brownies on Halloween.
LIPSCOMB: Gentlemen, please… Let’s keep this civil.
ADELSON: Like you’d know anything about the casino business in Asia… Hey, don’t your Russian mobster friends owe you something for getting Caesars kicked out of Massachusetts? Maybe they could put in a good word with Putin so you could put a casino in that dive they’re building in Vladivostok. Change your name to Czars Entertainment.
GARBER: You know what your problem is, Sheldon? You’re a Luddite who wants to go back to the days when women refused to come to the phone if they weren’t properly dressed. But you’re an old man in a wheelchair not long for this world, and soon somebody less afraid of the future is going to be running Sands and they’ll undo everything you’re attempting to do now.
ADELSON: You little pisher… The only reason I’m in a wheelchair is because my balls are so gargantuan they make walking painful. Have yours even dropped yet?
LIPSCOMB: Perhaps it’s time we dropped the curtain on this spirited debate. I’d like to thank both participants for…
ADELSON: (ignoring Lipscomb) What the hell do you know about this business anyway? You were Parisol’s poodle at PartyGaming and every successful part of CIE is either dependent on someone else’s software or was already successful when you bought it! What have you, personally, built in this business besides a footstool so you could see over that podium?
At this point, Garber leaped down off his footstool and charged at Adelson. In the ensuing struggle, Adelson’s wheelchair tipped over and Garber was crushed underneath Adelson’s nuts, the staggering vastness of which proved no exaggeration. While many observers feel Garber won the debate on points, his rehabilitation is expected to be a lengthy process, so anyone looking for a senior management position at a US-based online gambling company should start networking now.