BUSINESS

Reno casino does about-face on online gambling; Adelson’s after school special

TAGs: Atlantis Casino, Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, john farahi, Monarch Casino & Resort, Nevada, sheldon adelson

coalition-stop-internet-gambling-afterschool-specialThe boss of the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno says his company is no longer interested in pursuing an online poker operation in Nevada. Way back in August 2012, state regulators awarded an interactive gambling license to Monarch Casino & Resort Inc., the parent company of the Atlantis casino. But the company never struck any deals with technology firms to further pursue this aim, and Monarch CEO John Farahi apparently took a road trip to Damascus that completely flipped his opinion on the merits on online gambling.

Speaking to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Farahi acknowledged that his company was once firmly behind the prospects of going online, “but we found out poker is being used as a tool to jar the door open to wide-open online internet gaming.” (As opposed to offline internet gaming.) Farahi noted that the revenue figures from Nevada’s online poker market have been underwhelming, earning just $824k in February and just $8.5m in the ten months since Ultimate Poker launched last April.

But Farahi principally chose to frame his flip-flop in moral terms, saying operators bore a “social responsibility” to guard against online gambling’s ability to infect households with cooties. “How do you control a person who comes home from work and blows the paycheck? Or someone not 21 years old? Here, we throw them out. Are parents going to become cops at home? There’s got to be some rules.”

Farahi conveniently neglected to reveal precisely how many times the high-minded Atlantis staff had thrown out a gambler who blew his or her paycheck at their slots and gaming tables, but his comments about the need to protect underage gamblers from harm dovetail nicely with the new video from the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), the advocacy group funded by Las Vegas Sands boss and occasional Bond villain Sheldon Adelson.

The “Don’t Bet On It” video (viewable below) depicts a rosy-cheeked cherub offering various logically challenged justifications for why he gambles online. The loveable doofus claims to have bypassed the unnamed gambling site’s ‘know your customer’ barriers by finding his dad’s account log-in on pop’s phone and the kid also happens to know dumb dad’s credit card number, so let it ride!

Adelson’s mini after school special would carry a lot more weight if it could point to one single example of such a scenario playing out in the real world. On Tuesday, Bloomberg published an article discussing the many challenges facing New Jersey’s four-month-old online gambling market, ranging from geolocation issues to banks and credit card companies’ ongoing reluctance to process online gambling payments. But as Gambling Compliance managing director James Kilsby noted, “I haven’t heard any reports of underage gambling, fraud or money launderers.” Sure… Next you’ll be telling us that Sarah T really wasn’t a teenage alcoholic…

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