The president of casino operator Las Vegas Sands claims the US federal government wants to make online gambling legal so that it can tax the crap out of it. Michael Leven made the claim on Friday at a VIP breakfast intended to kick off this weekend’s convention of the Nevada state Republican Party, which gets underway Saturday at the South Point in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted Leven theorizing that an “out-of-control” federal government needed fresh revenue streams to support its spendthrift ways and online gambling would do just nicely.
Leven’s argument would bear infinitely more weight if Congress had actually done something – anything – to impose a federally regulated online gambling regime, instead of taking the more sensible route and leaving gambling decisions to the states. In fact, the only groups earning money from online gambling in Washington are the whores, er, lobbyists employed by the pro and con factions.
This week, Nevada journalistic mainstay Jon Ralston exposed the thigh-high PVC booties worn by the lobbying firms on both sides of the digital divide. Ralston obtained documents written by the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro, who have signed on to help Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson achieve his goal of driving a stake through the heart of online gambling. The documents reveal that prior to taking Adelson’s money to say online gambling causes cancer, Dickstein et al were pitching Caesars Entertainment on a strategy to “combat Adelson’s campaign to generate State Attorneys General opposition to on-line gaming.”
The proposal, dated November 27, sketches out a strategy for gumming up the wheels of Adelson’s wheelchair (figuratively speaking) by painting Adelson’s campaign “for what it is: a self-interested attempt to protect his interest by imposing ill-advised and unnecessary legal barriers to on-line gaming under the guise of consumer protection.” In exchange, Dickstein Shapiro expected to be paid $35k per month plus expenses, with extra charges for any research papers, legal memos or repairing any runs in their fishnet stockings.
Before any online gambling supporters bellow ‘Shame!’ too loudly, Ralston also exposed their champions as fickle phonies. Former California Representative Mary Bono, currently a pro-online gambling advocate for the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection (C4COP), wrote an op-ed in Roll Call in February calling Adelson’s anti-online gambling campaign “misguided.” A month earlier, Bono had written to Sands spokesman Ron Reese, wondering if Sands needed help battling the American Gaming Association’s new pro-online gambling position.
There’s really nothing more to add than the immortal words of the Simpsons’ Diamond Joe Quimby: “Did I hear a briefcase opening?”